Did you know you can anti-age your brain? Brain fitness Dr Jenny Brockis explains how
According to the Australian College of Cosmetic Surgery, Australians invest around $1 billion dollars on cosmetic procedures each year. But given the choice, would you prefer to be “looking young” for your age or to remain “sharp as a tack”? According to brain fitness specialist and author of Future Brain, Dr Jenny Brockis, it’s our lifestyle choices that determine how well we age.
“As shown in the FINGER study, by following a combination of healthy nutrition, exercise, cognitive training and social activity can improve or maintain cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline,” says Dr Jenny, who outlines seven ways to anti-age your brain:
Choose those foods that boost your mood and cognition as outlined in the MIND diet; leafy greens, other vegetables, berries, fish, poultry, legumes, whole grains, seeds and nuts. Real food that is fresh, unprocessed and mostly plant based is the way to a healthy brain.
Mind your mind
Chronic severe stress puts us at risk of mental illness and cognitive decline. Make stress management part of your regular routine to build greater stress resistance. This can be achieved in a variety of ways including listening to music, going for a walk, and practising relaxation techniques including yoga, Pilates or a meditation practice.
Get to the brain gym
Stretch your mental muscle to avoid brain rust. Choose a new activity to focus your attention on, one you don’t necessarily expect to be good at. Mix it up with plenty of variety; take a photography course, learn a new language or musical instrument or maybe learn origami to build greater cognitive reserve.
Exercise is highly neuroprotective and stimulates the release of feel-good hormones, to boost mood and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. It also reduces brain shrinkage that naturally occurs with age! Do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day, or 20 minutes of higher intensity training three times a week.
Sleep on it
Sleep deprivation plays havoc with memory, concentration and mood. Getting a full seven to eight hours of good quality uninterrupted sleep is what counts, so watch your caffeine and alcohol intake, switch off your technology 90 minutes before sleep, keep your bedroom cool and dark. If sleep eludes you, a 20-minute power nap in the early afternoon works wonders as a cognitive refresher.
Keep in touch
We are social creatures, hard wired to connect. Social isolation and loneliness diminishes brains, so look for opportunities to interact with others. Keep in touch with your friends, see your family often and get out to make new friends and stay curious to what is around you
Share a smile
Our emotions are infectious. Spreading positivity germs boosts your mood, reduces stress and contributes to your overall level of happiness.
“Following a healthy brain lifestyle is all about choice” Dr Jenny says. “While there can be no guarantee against cognitive decline or dementia, there is much we can all do at any age to preserve better brain health and function, and the earlier we start the better.”
Dr. Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner who specialises in brain health and high performance thinking. Visit www.drjennybrockis.com to learn more.