5 essential ingredients for brain health

What does it take to live a long, healthy life?

A healthy brain.

At Northwestern University in America, scientists say that “SuperAgers” are a trend on the rise. These are men and women older than 80 whose memories are as good or better than those up to 30 years younger!

And one of the key reasons is that SuperAgers have a relatively wholesome overall sense of wellbeing, from experiencing satisfying warm relationships to living a life of purpose. “Social relationships are really important to this group and might play a significant role in preserving their cognition,” say researchers.

What, then, are the other ingredients to ensure you also turn into one of these SuperAgers?

Brain essentials

Make fish your friends

The stars here are Omega-3s and Omega-6s. You get these either in supplement form or through food. But what’s so great about them? Research shows that the brain needs a constant supply of these essential fatty acids throughout your life, but babies and seniors have the most need. EFAs play a significant role in brain structure by determining membrane fluidity, while also contributing significantly to brain function. Omega-3s could possibly prevent dementia or help if you already show signs of the condition, so include more of these healthy fats in your diet, or take a supplement.

Walk the walk

Lace up those sneakers. Daily walks do your brain a world of good. In a recent study, a group of people all 60 and older were separated into two walking groups. One group walked about four thousand steps a day while the other aimed for more than four thousand. Those who clocked in more steps displayed better results on MRI scans. Scientists say that walking at least three kilometres a day can help preserve cognitive functioning in our ageing brains.

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Be a social butterfly

It’s official; spending quality time with friends and loved ones gives your brain a happy boost. Numerous studies show that those with an active social life perform better on memory and cognition tests. Join a community club, enjoy lunches out with your friends, or volunteer. The key is happy moments with feel-good people.

Use it or lose it

Those who continue learning new things throughout life and regularly challenge their brains are less likely to develop serious dementia. Make a point of staying mentally fit. Learn something new, whether it’s technology, skill or language. Try to squeeze in some brain games or crosswords on a daily basis. Have new experiences – instead of eating at the same place every weekend, make a point of exploring a new area. Take different routes to work – anything that challenges you to step out of your comfort zone.

Spare the sugar, save your brain

Bad news: sugar ages your brain (and skin). When we take in more sugar than necessary, the excess causes toxic compounds to form and surplus insulin is released, spiking blood sugar levels. With the extra glucose overloading brain cells, the neurons are far less able to do their work, leading to less functioning brain tissue in important areas of the brain.

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