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Wise Ways to Keep Your Brain Running

By Sandy Schroeder

That marvelous snap-back elasticity and surging brain energy that we enjoy when we are young can be protected if we are aware, according to Harvard Health doctors and scientists.

As you move through your 30s, 40s or 50s your brain will change and so will its agility, but mental impact is not inevitable if you fight back, according to current research.

What to Do Now

There is no better time than now to maintain your brain with tips like these from Harvard Health.

Move a lot more – Researchers say exercising may make your brain stronger as more small blood vessels spring up to carry blood with oxygen to the brain to help it think better. At the same time, when you stay fit you may lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and protect the heart.

Eat better – Cutting calories has been proven to reduce mental aging, and a healthy diet helps. Skip the burgers and fries with their heavy loads of saturated and trans-fats; you choose leafy greens, fortified cereals, low-fat dairy, salmon, poultry, lean meats, healthy oils, and nuts.

Watch your sugar – Diabetes is a key risk factor for dementia, but you may sidestep the issue by maintaining a normal weight and keeping your sugar levels in the normal range. Replace sweet treats with lots of fresh fruit.

Avoid tobacco – Drop the cigarettes, pipes and cigars.

Limit wine, beer, cocktails – Heavy drinking is a major risk factor for mental decline. Hold the line at one to two drinks per day.

Wear a helmet – Whenever you are involved in active sports, bikes or motorcycles, or hands-on heavy work, wear the appropriate protective headgear. Head injuries can lead to mental decline and it just takes one accident to change everything.

Stay emotionally strong – Worry, anxiety, sleeplessness and depression can all befuddle the brain. Get 7 to 9 hours sleep per night and learn how to let stress go.

Connect and reconnect – Reach out to friends, family and your community to help and be helped. Strong social networks are linked to lower blood pressure and longevity.

Tease the brain – Never stop reading, talking with interesting people, pursuing math, science, puzzles or games. Stimulating the brain is an ongoing exercise that you cannot afford to give up. Researchers say every mental move you make on the chess board, or in the work arena, can help you promote new brain connections.

One of my favorite artists raised the question recently, as he asked, "What have we got if we lose our memory?" Do your best to not find out.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Loveland, Colo. 

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