Keeping your brain healthy is something crucial that should be prioritized at all stages of life, not just as you age. However, if you think that maintaining the health of your brain is just about doing crossword puzzles and avoiding head injuries, you might not realize that there’s a lot of seemingly harmless habits that can negatively impact your brain’s functioning and even put you at higher risk for developing dementia or Alzheimer’s. Finding these bad habits in your life and replacing them with good ones will have a huge positive impact on the health of your brain and your body overall.
Skimping on Nutrients
Your brain needs nutrients in order to thrive and continue to function well throughout your life. Most specifically, a deficiency of vitamin B12 has been linked to cognitive decline, whereas diets like the DASH diet or the Mediterranean diet that are high in vitamin B12 are often correlated with better cognitive function and reduced risk of dementia. Clams, sardines, beef, tuna, eggs, and milk and dairy products are all rich in B12, and adding them into your diet can help you to keep your vitamin levels up and feed your brain!
A Sedentary Lifestyle
Everyone knows that regular exercise is good for your overall health and is something to prioritize, especially as you age, but did you know that not getting enough exercise can be detrimental to your brain? A sedentary lifestyle will put you at a higher risk of cognitive issues, so it’s important to make sure you squeeze in about 30-40 minutes of some kind of movement per day. A daily walk is a great way to do this! Exercise will release endorphins, elevate your heart rate, and promote blood flow to the brain, all of which help you to stay sharp.
The pandemic has exacerbated an underlying issue of social isolation in our society, and people everywhere are feeling the effects of spending long periods of time separated from their friends and loved ones. Long periods of time spent alone can increase your risk of stress and anxiety and affect your brain health, leading to increased risk of dementia. Even if it’s just a video call with someone you care about a few times a week, try to get as much social interaction as you’re able to. Not only will it make you feel happier and less lonely, but it’s good for your brain too!
Getting a bad night’s sleep is one of those things that you can feel the repercussions of right away, even the cognitive ones. A foggy head and issues with memory and information retention are things that you will commonly experience if you don’t sleep well, and the longer you go without a good night’s rest, the more these problems will cause you difficulties. Try to prioritize having a good sleep routine and going to sleep and getting up at the same time every day to help ensure that you get enough sleep every night.
Excessive Use of Alcohol
As nice as it might be to enjoy a few drinks after a long day, that doesn’t change the fact that alcohol is a neurotoxin that will have direct effects on your brain as well as your liver and heart. Heavy drinking is correlated with early-onset Alzheimer’s, so if you want to keep your brain in the best possible shape, try to limit your alcohol intake and be aware of how much you drink on special occasions as well.
It might feel as if problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s are completely out of your control, and you have no say in how they can take over your life, but the truth is there is a lot you can do to decrease your risk of developing these conditions. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with emphasis on boosting your brain function will be a major contributor to how sharp you stay over the years, so if you find you’re prone to some of these bad habits and you want to help keep your brain healthy, try building some alternative good habits into your routine!