There are lots of different things that influence the health of our brain throughout our lives.
Some factors we can’t control, but there are many areas we can look to manage, through making positive changes in the way we live our lives.
Explore the categories below for information and inspiration. Use these tips to set your own personal Brain Health Pledges.
Being physically active is one of the best things you can do to boost brain health. Regular exercise helps maintain a good blood supply to the brain, improves mental wellbeing and promotes good quality sleep.
There are lots of ways you can become more active. Whatever works for you, aim to complete at least 2-3 hours of moderate intensity exercise every week.
Making good food choices can help ensure your brain gets the nutrients it needs.
Your diet is also vital for maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, which can affect brain health.
Research shows that following a Mediterranean-style diet benefits your brain. Rich in olive oil, it includes:
LOTS OF: vegetables, fruit, beans, fish and wholegrains.
NOT TOO MUCH: meat and sweet, sugary foods.
Your brain thrives on company and benefits from the stimulation of you being with other people. We also know that if you continue to learn, and challenge yourself mentally throughout life, you can build your brain’s resilience.
Picking up new skills and hobbies helps too. Be creative. Learning a language or a musical instrument is a great way to stay sharp.
Try a new activity in a group, or with a friend, to keep motivated while also getting that added social benefit.
Smoking causes damage to the blood vessels that supply the brain, interrupting the delivery of vital oxygen and nutrients.
Stopping smoking – even later on in life – can reduce the risk of developing dementia.
You don’t need to avoid alcohol completely, but exceeding the
recommended weekly limits can damage the brain and increase your risk.
Long-term stress can harm the brain and make it harder to keep on top of the other factors that are key to keeping our brains healthy. So make time for yourself, and the things that help you switch off and relax.
Take steps to protect your sleep. Your brain cleans itself while you sleep, flushing out waste products that build up throughout the day.
Aim for 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night. Not getting enough sleep can affect your memory and ability to think in the short and long term.
Some medical conditions can have a knock-on effect on your brain’s wellbeing.
Among them are those that affect blood supply, including diabetes, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation.
Conditions that might leave us feeling socially isolated, such as hearing loss and depression, can have an impact too – as can a history of head injury.
Monitor your overall health with regular check-ups. Pick up on any concerns early, follow medical advice closely and take any medications as prescribed.