Tips for Better Brain Health in the Year Ahead
At the start of a new year, many people resolve to take steps that will improve their health and wellbeing. Pharmacists can help clients improve their brain health by recommending some tried-and-true helpful tips.
Eat Super Foods
Researchers have identified certain foods that are particularly good for supporting brain health. These include green and leafy vegetables, such as spinach, collard greens and broccoli, which are high in nutrients; fatty fish, such as salmon, cod and pollack, which have an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids; berries, such as blueberries and strawberries, which contain flavonoids; green tea, which contain caffeine and l-theanine and epigallocatechin gallate components; and nuts, especially walnuts, which are an excellent source of proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. The Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods, whole grains, fish and olive oil, has been shown to be particularly effective in supporting brain health.
Get Your Body Moving
Exercise has long been found to help support brain health later in life. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says physical activity can support brain health in a variety of ways. “Any amount of physical activity can help. No matter your age or fitness level, physical activity can help” with things like “sleep, brain health, and quality of life,” the CDC says. Physical activity can be as simple as walking, dancing, and light exercise.
Keep Your Brain Engaged
Engaging with others is strongly associated with brain function, according to the CDC. Staying engaged is not only fun, it’s good for you, the agency says. Social activities to support brain health might include singing in a choir, joining a book club, taking a class, or volunteering at the animal shelter, the CDC adds.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for supporting both cognition and healthy brain function, studies have shown. Sleep gives the brain time to consolidate and store memories, while cleansing the brain of metabolic waste products, research suggests. Experts recommend people aim to get seven to eight consecutive hours of sleep per night and avoid fragmented sleep of two- or three-hour increments. This can be achieved in part by establishing a regular bedtime routine and making one’s bedroom conducive for sleep.
Drink in Moderation (and Don’t Smoke)
Alcohol consumption has been associated with various brain health issues, according to research. If you drink, experts recommend drinking in moderation, which means two drinks or less in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women, according to Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. Smoking has many known negative health effects, including harm to the brain, research finds. Pharmacists can help their clients develop strategies to stop smoking.