We asked in a recent FlashVote what you wanted to learn about in our upcoming newsletter related to the brain: 73.7 percent of you voted for healthy tips for optimal brain function. Want to weigh in next time with your vote? You can sign up for FlashVote at www.flashvote.com/phcd.

Keep These Top Tips “In Mind” for Optimal Brain Function

Aging can’t be avoided, but cognitive impairment is not inevitable. There are ways to help maintain brain function and to keep your mind as young as possible.

In fact, scientists have been studying how to stimulate new connections between nerve cells. The idea is to develop neurological plasticity to build a functional reserve that serves as a barrier against future cell loss.

Mentally stimulating activities are a critical part of keeping mental decline at bay as you age. Just like exercise keeps your body in shape, mentally stimulating activities keep your brain in shape. It might even delay memory loss.

Some fun ideas include taking an alternative route home or learning to play a musical instrument. Volunteering can also keep the mind sharp. Other suggested activities include reading, solving math problems, doing word puzzles, drawing, painting, and even going back to school.

But it’s not just your brain that needs to be active. Getting your whole body into the act is equally important. Exercise for the body is also good for the brain!

Eating right is a big part of the picture, too. Maintain a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, olive oil and plant-based proteins. Sound nutrition supports healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Limiting your intake of alcohol and eliminating tobacco in all forms is also a good idea.

Another important point for reinforcing positive cognitive function is strong emotional health. Be aware of feelings of anxiety, depression or exhaustion.  Creating and maintaining a strong social community is integral to mental and physical health. A final tip includes getting a good night’s sleep. Rest is a major component of human health.

Keeping these tips about the brain top of mind reflects what George Burns used to say, “you can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”

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