Although many have tried to stop the process, there’s no getting around it: everybody ages. And while there’s no way to stop the aging process completely, there are steps you can take to slow it down. Through healthy eating, physical activity, and plenty of rest, you can take care of your body, and in turn, it will take care of you.
It all starts with the brain. And while exercise and diet go a long way to keeping us youthful, an active mind is where it all begins. Good cognitive health helps us to remember, stay on task, learn, and think, which comes in handy when making up a walking schedule or planning meals for the week.
Use it or lose it
Just like anything else, if you want to keep your brain in tip-top condition, you have to use it. Puzzles, board games, crosswords, and Sudokus are just a few ways to keep the synapses firing throughout life. But that becomes even more important as we reach retirement age and beyond.
A hobby is a great way to keep exercising your mind. Quilting, digital photography, reading, and even building models can keep your brain active as well as work on your dexterity. Have a few minutes waiting to see the doctor? There are hundreds of apps on the internet that are designed to keep you thinking.
Feed your mind
Just like spinach kept Popeye on the top of his game, there are dietary choices you can make to keep the mind healthy. It’s long been known that certain fish – including salmon and trout – are good for the brain. They are high in a certain kind of fat that helps generate brain and nerve cells.
Blueberries, certain nuts, and broccoli are high in antioxidants that help memory and improve communication between brain cells. Worried about having to cut out “fun” foods? It’s been shown that dark chocolate slows mental decline and provides a positive emotional boost. Wouldn’t you be happier eating chocolate instead of broccoli? In moderation of course.
And coffee drinkers rejoice! It’s been shown that a cup of joe increases alertness, concentration, and serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical that nerve cells produce to make us feel happy. But we think giving you the okay to have dark chocolate and coffee has the same effect.
It’s not all good news, though. Foods and drinks that are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates like those found in white flour, artificial trans fats (found in shortening and margarine), and highly processed foods all act to slow or even degrade the brain.
Lose the vice
During this time in your life, when you want to keep your mind as sharp as possible, it’s important to stay away from the products that actively attack the brain. Alcohol in moderation is fine, but excessive drinking can lead to brain degradation, memory loss, as well as a host of problems to other parts of the body.
Smoking cigarettes changes the chemistry of your brain. That’s why trying to quit causes such tough withdrawal symptoms. Cognitive decline happens naturally over time, but cigarettes accelerate that timeline. As a result, smokers also have an increased chance of having dementia.
Healthy body, healthy mind
Although they’re often thought of as opposing sides – the mental and the physical – the two are pretty dependent on each other. Cognitive health goes a long way to keeping the rest of the body healthy, too. Even if it’s just a matter of remembering to brush your teeth – every little thing counts.
So many of the things that are good for your mind – healthy eating, decreasing alcohol or nicotine use – are also good for the body. And if you’re going to have a strong mind, why not have the body to match? In future blog posts, we’ll discuss healthy activities and diets in greater depth as well as a post on the importance of sleep.
Guided Medicare Solutions is an independent Medicare insurance agency designed to help those nearing retirement age find a health care plan that works for their lifestyle – and their finances. We have access to more than 50 plans from more than 30 different carriers. Our Medicare specialists are here to help, whether you’re new to Medicare or have been using it for years.