It’s Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month! As we age, our mental function can decline. Good news, there are things you can do now to prevent cognitive decline! According to Harvard Health, you should keep these 7 things in mind to stimulate nerve cell connections and maintain or improve neurological plasticity.
*this post contains affiliate links.*
1.Stimulate Those Brain Cells
I like to think of mental stimulation at work as “brain breaks”. Take a few moments away from your work tasks to draw, read a good book, do crossword puzzles, color etc.
2. Get Sweaty
Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and can stimulate new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells. The results? Your brain is more efficient and adaptive. Exercise and a healthy diet also improve blood pressure and cholesterol which can both negatively impact your brain health.
Try these simple exercises to get your body moving and your blood pumping at work:
- Go to a nearby park and walk at a brisk pace for 30 minutes.
- If your building has stairs, go up 5 flights and down 5 flights and repeat for 15 minutes.
- Is there a long hallway at your workplace? Use it to do lunges for 5 minutes.
- Use your desk or a sturdy chair to do “tricep dips” and push ups. Try starting with 3 sets of 10 for each exercise.
- If available space is minimal, try Jumping Jacks for 8 minutes.
3. Improve Your Diet
A Mediterranean Diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, unsaturated oils (olive oil) and plant sources of protein. These 50 recipes and meal prep tips are great ways to incorporate the Mediterranean Diet in your work lunches and snacks!
The Keto Diet focuses on high fat content from healthy oils (avocado, olive, grape seed etc.), meat, (bacon, red meat, fish) and leafy or low carb vegetables. The goal is to transition your body from using carbs as an energy source and using fat as the energy source instead. Incorporating more healthy fats into your diet is super important for your brain. Why? Well, did you know the brain is the fattiest organ? The human brain is composed of nearly 60% fat. Fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine your brain’s integrity and ability to perform. Try these 21 Keto Meal Prep recipes for beginners and incorporate more healthy fats into your workplace lunches and snacks!
The main goal of either of these diets is to increase the amount of healthy fats in your diet. The Standard American Diet (SAD) promotes low fat intake but the body needs an adequate amount of fat for brain function and hormone production. I highly recommend you watch this video of Dr. Mary Newport and the amazing research she has done regarding medium chain triglycerides, ketones, and their impact on brain health. She’s been able to use increased fat intake to reverse and treat brain health issues like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.
4. Avoid Tobacco
Thinking about taking a smoke break at work today? You might want to think twice. Tobacco use is associated with cognitive decline, dementia, oxidative stress, Alzheimer’s, and inflammation. Did you know most insurance plans offer coverage for tobacco cessation to help you quit and live a healthier life? If your work provides EAP, you may also have access to tobacco cessation tools.
Want to give up tobacco on your own? Try this amazing self-help classic that has helped thousands of people give up tobacco for good!
Ensure you receive quality sleep each night and take moments to de-stress through out your day. If you believe you may be suffering form mental health related issues (i.e. depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc.) take a moment to reach out to a mental health professional.
6. Protect Your Head
Ride a bike to work? Work in construction? Moderate to severe head injuries (even without a diagnosed concussion) can increase risk of cognitive impairment. Use protective head gear as it’s intended to further protect your brain from injury.
7. Get Social
Strong social ties have been associated with lower risk of dementia, lower blood pressure, and longer life expectancy. Go to lunch with your coworkers, create a monthly potluck committee, or invite them over for a game night. There’s a lot of opportunity to make life long friends at work…I mean… you spend about a third of your day with them, makes sense to connect, have fun, and make memories together.
What are some of your favorite tips to keep your brain healthy? Do you have any favorite brain power snacks? What do you do to relax and unwind throughout your work day? Let us know in the comments below!