How to Boost Brain Health for 55 Plus in Ocean County, NJ
The human brain is a glorious organic computer capable of just about anything. It is the largest brain of all vertebrates in comparison to body size and contains as many neurons as the Milky Way contains stars.
Our complex brains are the drivers of our complex bodies, and without our brains we couldnʼt breathe, think abstractly, move, or remember. Thatʼs why we want to support the health of our brains, especially as we age. Below is a guide to boost brain health for 55 plus in Ocean County, NJ.
The brain is the driver of the nervous system, connected to the spine and nerves. It is made up of soft tissue that floats in a watery medium, within the skull. The fluid contains glucose (brain food) and proteins and lymphocytes which guard against infection.
The largest part of the brain is the cerebrum, which is the part of the brain that makes humans stand out as unique. It rules speech, emotion, thought, and learning, just for starters. Our cerebrum has many deep folds which maximize the surface area.
The human brain is divided into two hemispheres, the left and right, connected by a bundle of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum. The left hemisphere rules the right-hand side of the body, while the right hemisphere rules the left-hand side of the body.
The brain contains roughly 86 billion nerve cells, aka neurons, which makes up the “gray matter.” It also contains billions of nerve fibers, called axons and dendrites, which make up the “white matter.” There are literally trillions of connections, known as synapses, happening in the brain at any moment. It is no wonder then that the brain requires a constant supply of oxygen and glucose—both of which are carried by the blood.
Thatʼs why, even though the brain is only 2% of the bodyʼs weight, it requires a full 20% of the bodyʼs blood. It also requires an enormous amount of energy— roughly 20% of our total calorie intake.
Brains and Age
As our brains age, itʼs natural to have a decrease in neurons and for some cognitive function, such as memory, to decline slightly. This is normal and is not debilitating, but itʼs important to exercise your brain regularly. It is never too early to begin taking extra care of your brain.
Here are some of the things you can do to nourish your brain for 55 plus in Ocean County, NJ:
Diet for Brain Health
While the research is still being conducted on the best diet for cognitive function, there is some evidence that the Mediterranean diet and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets support brain health. This means eating a diet high in vegetables, herbs, beans, whole grains and healthy fats like olive oil and nuts.
Fatty fish is also important. Fatty fish includes fish like salmon and mackerel which are full of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The Harvard health blog explains, “Omega-3s help build cell membranes in the brain and also may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that could protect brain cells.” The Mediterranean diet has a limited amount of dairy, poultry and red meat.
Supplements for Brain Health
In addition to a diet that supports brain health, you could also consider adding supplements for an extra brain boost.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids (fish oil): Eating plenty of fatty fish is perhaps the best way to support overall health. It can also be beneficial to get extra omega 3 fatty acids by supplementing with fish oil.
Vitamin E: According to the Harvard health blog, Vitamin E is an antioxidant that supports brain health by reducing oxidative stress.
B Vitamins: Specifically, B6, B9 (folate), and B12 are linked to brain health. According to the Harvard health blog, these B vitamins “can help break down homocysteine, high levels of which have been associated with a greater risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. B vitamins also help produce the energy needed to develop new brain cells.”
Vitamin D: Some studies indicate that vitamin D may protect the brain against cognitive decline and dementia. Vitamin D is a very common deficiency, affecting nearly a billion people worldwide.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine (AlCAR): ALCAR is a derivative of L- carnitine, and helps increase brain carnitine levels. Carnitine is critical to energy production in the mitochondria and as levels drop due to age or stress, mitochondrial activity can slow down, contributing to memory loss and depression. Some studies indicate that Alzheimerʼs patients who supplement with ALCAR have a slower decline in mental abilities.
Exercise for Brain Health
Physical exercise is important not just for keeping the body healthy but for the brain too. When you exercise, you get your blood pumping, and that means more blood to the brain. We already know that the brain uses 20% of all the blood that gets pumped— the more that fresh blood pumps through it, the more toxins will be pushed out and the more new brain cells can form—leading to an overall healthier brain.
Exercise also improves and maintains balance, which is a brainʼs job and can be reduced with age. Luckily, living at Barnegat 67, there are ample opportunities for 55 plus in Ocean County, NJ to get exercise. Take a walk on the beach or go to the gym downstairs.
Of course, you can also exercise your brain by using it! Challenge your brain with strategy games, word games and crossword puzzles. Stretch your brain by learning a new language, or other skill. Learning to dance, for example, will strengthen your brain-body coordination—and youʼll gain some great moves! Reading and listening to classical music are easy daily activities that keep the brain active.
Donʼt forget to exercise your artistic brain too! Painting and making art, for example, can be a wonderful exercise to keep your mind healthy. Alternatively, you could teach a class. Sharing your skills and knowledge with others is a fantastic way to keep your mind making new connections.
According to the National Institute on Aging, scientists believe that these kinds of brain activities might work by protecting the brain by helping it become more adaptable in various mental functions. This will make it more able to compensate for changes in the brain as a natural result of aging.
Rest for Brain Health
In addition to exercise, the brain also needs quality rest. This may be a tired metaphor, but itʼs effective, so here goes: imagine your brain as your computer. It is an incredible machine, making thousands of invisible connections at every moment. But if you never turn it off, it will slow down. It needs time to shut down and recharge in order to work at maximum effectiveness.
Your brain benefits from different types of rest. Sleep is the obvious one. Make sure youʼre getting a full night of sleep. If you donʼt wake up naturally (that is, you require an alarm), then you probably arenʼt getting as much sleep as your body and brain needs.
When you sleep your brain actually cleans itself. All the toxins that build up during the day are washed out. If you donʼt get enough sleep, this process may not complete and toxins can damage otherwise healthy brain cells.
You can also rest your brain by taking time to relax. This could mean sitting on the beach and gazing out to the ocean, or taking a stroll through the park. For the 55 plus in Ocean County, NJ, there are lots of lovely natural areas to take it easy. Or head up to the rooftop resident lounge at Barnegat 67 to kick up your feet in a lounge chair.
Another kind of rest that your brain will vastly benefit from, is meditation. Hundreds of studies into the positive effects of meditation have been published recently. In addition to reducing stress and depression, improving concentration, and increasing the capacity for empathy, evidence even indicates that meditation may decrease the rate of brain deterioration.
A recent study from UCLA showed that the brains of meditators age less rapidly than those of non-meditators. Those who had been meditating for 20 years had significantly more grey matter volume throughout the brain. Furthermore, meditation reduces stress, which can wreak havoc on body and mental health.
Socialize for Brain Health
According to the Alzheimerʼs Association, regular social interaction is important for brain health. Stimulating conversations engages the mind and being social fosters connection which can reduce chances of age related depression. Nurture social connections by spending virtual time with family and friends.
At Barnegat 67, there are lots of opportunities for those who are 55 plus in Ocean County, NJ to virtually connect. And what luck —just getting online and having a good time will improve your brain health!