11 Top Tips to Keep Your Brain Sharp and Young

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11 Top Tips to Keep Your Brain Sharp and Young

Dr. Don Colbert — Dr. Don Colbert
Aug 17, 2019

Adding omega-3 fats is a crucial step in reducing inflammation and the risk of degenerative brain disease. To truly make a difference, it takes two steps: reducing inflammatory foods while increasing anti-inflammatory ones.

Is your brain as sharp as it was 5 years ago? 10 years?

Every year we age, we must be proactive to protect, maintain, and even improve the health of our bodies and our brains. (Photo by Vlad Sargu on Unsplash)

Naturally, all our systems begin to degrade after mid-age. This is true of our arteries, our muscles, and joints, and our brains.

But, you can do something about it. You can proactively continue to build them up instead.

If you are looking for ways to continue building up your brain, to keep it sharp and young, here are our 11 top tips.

11 Top Tips to Keep Your Brain Sharp and Young

1. Reduce Your Intake of Inflammatory Foods

Chronic inflammation is one of our body's biggest enemies.

And, the fuel for that enemy?

Modern, processed foods.

Most of the packaged foods in our supermarkets are full of ingredients that promote inflammation in our bodies. These ingredients are cheap fats like soybean oil that compete with anti-inflammatory fats and hormones in the body. Some of the worst offenders include:

• Commercial Dressings and Condiments with Soybean Oil
• Margarine
• TV Dinners with unhealthy fats
• Sugary Energy Drinks
• Fast-Food Deep-Fried Options

Many experts who have studied our current intake of inflammatory fats vs. anti-inflammatory ones are convinced that this dietary promotion of inflammation is a central cause to most of our chronic diseases.

These diseases include degenerative brain disease. During the last decade, a new cause of Alzheimer's has been identified: sustained immune reactions in the brain caused by chronic inflammation (1).

To reduce the risk of this disease and the deterioration of our brains, we must reduce inflammation.

2. Add Omega-3 Fats Daily

Adding omega-3 fats is a crucial step in reducing inflammation and the risk of degenerative brain disease. To truly make a difference, it takes two steps: reducing inflammatory foods while increasing anti-inflammatory ones.

One of the most potent anti-inflammatory foods is omega-3 fats from seafood, and to a lesser extent, plant foods.

Studies show that inflammation biomarkers improve as the relationship of omega-3s to omega-6s improving (2).

3. Include Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Spices and Vegetables at Every Meal

Brains age and become impaired with increased oxidative stress. And, while this has been long-accepted with the development of degenerative diseases, now researchers believe oxidative stress may play a role with anxiety, depression, and more (3).

Oxidative stress is the accumulation and damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are created by many biochemical reactions in our bodies.

They occur from daily living, processed foods, alcohol, nicotine, and more.

They are "quenched," or neutralized by antioxidants made by our cells (such as glutathione) and from foods. Foods and drinks that are high in antioxidant include bright and deeply colored vegetables, spices, raw cacao, green tea, nuts, seeds, and more.

These anti-agers work at the cellular level. Their antioxidants are so potent at the cellular level they go beyond the normal reduction in oxidative stress to promote longevity and health in the body. What's more, ginger and turmeric are also strong anti-inflammatory foods that reduce joint and muscle pain (4).

4. Hydrate Well

Your brain is affected by your long-term and short-term hydration status.

In fact, mood, fatigue, and alertness are all impaired with dehydration (5).

Hydration also affects your digestive tract, skin, kidney function, and more (all tissues depend on it).

What should you drink?

Water: Purified water is your best choice for hydration. It offers all the benefits without any extra ingredients to bog the body down.

Green and Black Tea: Green and black tea are youthful drinks! They can reduce age-expediting stress and cortisol, have antibacterial properties for oral health, support eye health contain brain-boosting compounds, and can even promote weight loss (6).

What about coffee? Coffee is a healthful drink, and a great way to start the day. But its high caffeine level can act as a gentle diuretic, so don't count it towards your hydration totals.

How Much? I recommend a minimum of 48-64 oz. fluid per day for most women, and 64-80 oz. per day for most men. But, many people feel great on more. Also, add more hydration if you exercise. Try to get in all fluids before 7 pm or so, so that it doesn't disrupt your sleep.

Lastly, make sure to brush your teeth after drinking coffee and tea to avoid staining.

5. Get Into the Keto Zone

When you take the sugars and most carbs out of your diet, your brain will begin to burn ketones instead of carbs as fuel.

Astonishingly, this change in brain fuel has been used successfully for decades to help children with epilepsy vastly reduce seizures (without medications) (7).

Now, there is promising research on ketosis and brain improvements for degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease (8).

What's more, many people in ketosis report greater brain clarity, focus, and function than before.

6. Add Fasting to Your Routine

Many people fast for spiritual reasons, and this is great. But fasting also has benefits that manifest physically and mentally.

In fact, there are numerous scientific studies that show its anti-aging benefits.

Fasting can increase insulin sensitivity, promote weight loss, decrease inflammation, increase mental clarity, normalize levels of the "hunger hormone" ghrelin, and even regenerate the immune system. All of this is good for the body and brain.

To add an easy intermittent fasting schedule, either choose to fast one 24-hour period per week, or try fasting 15-16 hours per day, from 7 pm to 10 am. You can drink water, tea, and coffee during the fast.

7. Get Outside, Work on Flexibility, and Stay Active

You don't have to run a marathon.

But, there are many benefits to staying active, flexible and being outside!

Here's how each helps:

1. Get Outside for Activity: Cortisol levels naturally decrease when we spend time outdoors. What's more, getting natural sunlight in the morning helps our bodies stay on track with wake/sleep hormones, promoting better sleep. All of this is good for the brain.

2. Stay Active: A brisk walk, hike, or other activity that increase your heart rate is brain-healthy! The more you do to increase blood flow to the brain, the better for brain health.

3. Work on Flexibility: Every year we age, our bodies become less flexible at the spine and trunk...unless you do something about it. Use stretching, yoga, or other flexibility exercises each day. Believe it or not, your trunk flexibility is directly correlated with blood pressure, and healthy blood pressure levels are good for the brain!

8. Trade in Stress for Laughter

There's little doubt that chronic, mental stress is a brain ager.

In fact, according to a 2018 study, researchers found that increased blood cortisol levels are correlated with impaired memory and lower brain volume in mid-life (1). What's more, after studying 2231 human participants, they found the effects were more pronounced in women participants than men.

To reduce cortisol:

• Eat foods and drinks that may reduce cortisol naturally. Try fatty fish like salmon, dark chocolate (70% or higher cocoa), fruits and vegetables, or superfood fruit and vegetable powders.  You can also drink cortisol-busting green tea and black tea to lower cortisol levels. Great for hot summer days!

• Make time for laughter every day. First, identify your most stressful time. Is it the morning? The commute? The first hour back home? If you're able, work in laughter during these times. Listen to comedy on the commute. Make time for a friend. Enjoy a funny book. Laughter has the opposite hormonal effect of stress.

For more ways to cut cortisol naturally, read our full list here.

9. Keep Challenging Your Brain

Your brain was made to do challenging work. From the time we are born, our brain reacts and grows due to new challenges.

Don't stop now.

You can use mental challenges or new activities to keep your brain sharp and young.

Try puzzles, photography, dance lessons, yoga, memorization, reading and more.

Never stop learning!

10. Pray and Practice Gratitude

Pray and practice gratitude. At the end of each day, take time to practice gratitude and pray. Put down the screens and write three to five specific things for which you are grateful.

Believe it or not, studies show lower cortisol circulation immediately when subjects focus on things for which they are grateful.

Immediately. This is your secret weapon against daily stress and brain degeneration.

And, it's completely free.

So it is with prayer. When you pray, you improve mental health and build your relationship with God.

Pray with thanksgiving, releasing things you cannot control and the stressors you face.

11. Get Consistent, Good-Quality Sleep

For a sharp, young brain, aim to consistently get at least 7-8 hours of good sleep per night. It's truly one of the most potent brain healers and anti-agers.

In fact, lack of sleep is associated with increased anxiety, slow brain performance, increased blood sugars, hormone disturbances, and more. These all lead to expedited and unhealthy aging.

To age well, you don't need just any sleep…you need "good" sleep.

So, if you suffer from snoring, sleep apnea, or anything else that disturbs sleep, it's worthwhile to speak with your doctor and explore treatments.

Bottom Line

We all age. Every year, our bodies and brains can degrade…but they don't have to. You can proactively build them, protect them, and keep them sharp and young. Follow our tips each day. Most are free and simple. Develop these habits now for years of brain health.

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