Illustration of a healthy brain growing as a plant

Until recently, scientists thought that the brain was different from other parts of the body and could not change much after childhood. But it turns out that the brain is more able to adapt and heal than formerly believed.

A large, long-term study found that only 25% of brain aging is due to genetics. The other 75% depends on lifestyle activities like what we eat, how much exercise we get, and even how long we sleep at night. A lot of research has shown that what’s good for the body is also good for the brain.

Here are some things you can do to help protect your brain and memory. Yes, changing habits is hard at any age, but the good news is that every small step you take will help you stay healthier. It’s never too late to make your life better.

Socialize

According to a 2012 study, loneliness increases the risk of developing dementia and memory loss by 65%. Scientists believe this
is partly because psycho-social stress causes harmful inflammation in the brain.

Keep moving

Any movement, from household chores to taking a walk in the park, gets blood flowing to your brain.

Sleep

Your brain repairs itself while you sleep, so try to get at least 7-8 hours each night.

Feed your mind

Eat more vegetables, fruit, fish, whole grains. Use less sugar, salt, white flour, and processed foods.

Learn something new

Like muscles, your brain gets stronger with exercise – a class at the senior center, a new skill or hobby, an interesting library book. (Crossword puzzles and Sudoku are fun, but have not proven to improve brain function.)

Make music

Playing music activates both sides of your brain at the same time and is probably the only activity we do that exercises the entire brain. So, pick up that old ukulele, harmonica, or recorder. Join the church choir or start a singing group with friends.

Why not start today?

There's never a right time to get started, so why not learn more today?

Visit our page "Life with CEI" and learn more.