It is a sad and somewhat disconcerting truth that as we get older, our brains inevitably age and our intellectual capacity drops. Aging is just a part of life, and while there’s little we can do to prevent the process, there are still many things we can do to slow it, particularly when it comes to our brains and cognitive processes.
Here are just a few ways you can improve your mental agility and help slow the cerebral decline caused by aging.
Eating a balanced, healthy diet
We all know the saying, “You are what you eat,” and this applies equally to our brains as much as our bodies. In particular, the Mediterranean diet is renowned for being full of nutrients, perfect for stimulating better cardiovascular and cognitive health.
A diet rich in fish, poultry and dairy products — mixed with natural fruits, vegetables, grains nuts and seeds — provides the perfect mix of nutrients required for a healthy life.
These proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals protect against cancers and dementia while also promoting good general health.
The benefits of physical exercise are clear to see on the body, but physical exertion also has unexpected — yet profound — effects on the brain.
Physical exercise helps relieve anxiety, insomnia and depression and also prevents dementia and other harmful cognitive problems. Moreover, exercise makes us tired which, in turn, encourages better and deeper sleep patterns.
Mental stimulation, games and exercise
It should come as little surprise that stimulation of the brain helps protect against mental decline, dementia and other damaging symptoms. In particular, writing, reading, solving puzzles, playing music and games are particularly beneficial against the aging process.
With more “silver surfers” than ever these days, online games have proven incredibly popular as a source for mental stimulation. Games like bingo have a proven impact on improving memory and cognitive function. Bingo sites online also provide a highly social experience, particularly for older, less mobile people, again improving overall mental health and encouraging social engagement.
Strong social networks and interaction are known to be at least as, if not more important, than physical and mental exercise. Our social connections don’t just keep us engaged and active; they also provide a vital support network for helping us through the more challenging times in life.
Loneliness often leads to depression which, in turn, directly correlates with mental decline. Social interaction boosts cognitive levels, improves attention and memory, gives us a support network to rely on and also lowers stress levels.
While it might seem slightly unlikely, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that drinking a small amount of alcohol daily is good for the brain — particularly in older citizens.
Recent studies have shown that alcohol in moderation can protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. While more research is needed, there is still a consensus that alcoholic drinks should be limited to two a day for men and one for women.
Indeed, one study showed that males who drink more than four drinks per day (three drinks per day for women) are 22% more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s.