Brain Health

5 ways to keep your mind sharp

A brain health blueprint for better care

Imagine this: A peaceful stroll in the morning in a calm Indian community, where scores of early retirees are practising yoga and meditation. People are grinning and laughing at each other, and there’s an indisputable feeling of life and happiness in the air.

This is the essence of a way of life that prioritises mental and physical well-being. We frequently underestimate the significant influence our daily decisions have on the health of our brains in our pursuit for a longer, better life. A healthy lifestyle, which includes adequate amount of physical and mental stimulation has a significant impact on our general well-being, as demonstrated by recent studies.

Dr. Deborah Danner of the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Centre on Ageing emphasises that lifestyle factors account for 70% of a person’s lifespan rather than only genetics. We’ll look at how making deliberate decisions might enhance mental health in general, emotional stability, and cognitive performance.

The brain’s remarkable adaptability

The brain, which was formerly believed to be a static organ, is now understood to be a dynamic environment. As India’s colourful streets change over time, so do our brains as a result of the events we expose them to. Neural plasticity is this idea, and it has revolutionised our knowledge of brain function. Surprisingly, it seems that the environmental inputs the brain receives have a greater impact than chronological age. Similar to how Indian cities are always changing, the brain’s capacity for adaptation depends on its exposure to new and complex stimuli. If you’re interested in knowing some more fun facts about your brain, do check out our post on 15 mind blowing facts about the brain here.

Neurogenesis, the process by which the human hippocampus generates new brain cells, plays a crucial role in what researchers like Robert Wilson term “brain resilience.” Imagine your brain as a garden where new neurons bloom, providing a defense against diseases and cognitive decline. Brain resilience is the cornerstone of a brain health lifestyle, promoting cognitive longevity.

Components of a brain health lifestyle

To build a brain health lifestyle, we must consciously engage in activities that foster brain resilience and optimal functionality. Let’s delve into the five major components of a brain health lifestyle with real-life examples:

  1. Mental Stimulation: Meet Meera, a retiree in her 70s. She enjoys her mornings solving crossword puzzles, reading, and learning to play a new musical instrument. Meera’s cognitive engagement not only keeps her sharp but also adds a spark to her daily life.
  2. Physical Activity: Take the story of Ravi, a 65-year-old grandfather. He religiously practices yoga and goes for long walks with his friends. His physical fitness doesn’t just keep his heart healthy but also ensures a sharp and vibrant mind.
  3. Socialisation: Visit any Indian neighborhood, and you’ll find spirited gatherings of friends and families. The bonds of community and camaraderie are essential for emotional connections, safeguarding against loneliness and cognitive decline.
  4. Nutrition: Imagine sitting down to a traditional Indian meal with a colorful array of fruits, vegetables, and spices. This not only tantalizes your taste buds but nourishes your brain with vital nutrients. On a related note, you can check our 6 best foods for anti-ageing on this post here.
  5. Spirituality: Visit any temple or mosque in India, and you’ll witness people deep in meditation or prayer. These practices are more than just rituals; they have a profound impact on emotional well-being and mental tranquility.
keep your mind sharp

The Human Brain – An enigmatic powerhouse

While we continue to investigate and understand the five core components of brain health, there are new horizons to explore. The human brain remains a mystery, with untapped potential waiting to be discovered. Consider the concept of “neural energies,” an emerging field of study. Just as India harnesses its diversity to create harmony, can we harness the power of our brains to heal our bodies, communicate virtually, and shape our civilisation?

A recent study led by economics professor Jinkook Lee and her colleagues has estimated that the prevalence of dementia in India is around 7.4% among adults aged 60 and older. This means that approximately 8.8 million Indians are currently living with dementia, which is higher than previous estimates of 5.3M. It is imperative that we take control of our health by making informed choices and cultivating a lifestyle that prioritises the well-being of our most vital organ – the brain.

In doing so, we not only enhance our own lives but contribute to a healthier, more vibrant society, much like the thriving communities found in the heart of India. You can also read about successful ageing in rural and urban Indian elders.

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