When it comes to staying sharp and protecting your memory, the little things can make a big impact.
Keep reading for 5 things you can do today—and every day—to boost your brain health.
FIRST THING IN THE MORNING: Floss.
Listen to your dentist. Not only does flossing keep teeth healthy, but it also keeps plaque at bay—super important for your brain, since, Dr. Michael Roizen tells CNN, “The plaque between teeth can cause an immune reaction that attacks arteries, which then can’t deliver vital nutrients to brain cells.”
DURING WORK: Do one thing at a time.
Sorry, you’re probably not as good as multitasking as you think you are—research shows that only about two percent of the population can actually do different things at the same time without experiencing a decline in efficiency or quality. As for the rest of us, we just get slower and worse at all of the activities we’re trying to juggle—pretty scary in some situations, when you consider studies like the one that found that the amount of brain bandwidth going toward driving drops by 37 percent when we have music playing.
DURING YOUR LUNCH BREAK: Take a brisk walk.
Staying physically fit can keep you mentally fit, too—multiple studies have found that areas of the brain that control thinking and memory have more volume in people who exercise compared to people who don’t. Haven’t put on sneakers in years? Not to fear—it’s never too late to start and reap the benefits.
“Engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions,” says Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School.
AT DINNER: Load up on healthy fats, vegetables and water.
Load up on veggies—eating three servings of leafy green, yellow, and cruciferous vegetables a day can delay cognitive decline by 40 percent, according to research. Meanwhile, fatty foods can improve long-term memory, while staying hydrated is a must for keeping your cognitive processes speedy.
AT NIGHT: Stop skimping on sleep.
Skipping a few hours of sleep here and there does more than just make you groggy the next morning—it can actually shrink your brain, recent research suggests. Scientists had patients complete questionnaires about their sleep habits and undergo MRI scans, one before completing the questionnaire and one three and a half years later. They found that the patients with sleep problems had a more rapid drop in brain volume compared to those who had better sleep habits—the the correlation was especially significant for participants over 60-years-old.