Daily activities

Scientists reveal 5 daily activities to improve brain health

Keeping your brain healthy will improve every aspect of your life. Fortunately, there are things you can always do to keep that large organ in your skull functioning.

According to several scientific studies, here are five things you could do every day that are good for your brain, and one that is not.

5. Exercise

We all know that exercise is good for our bodies, but according to several studies, moving our body also benefits our brain. A study in the German Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that exercise-induced increases in maximal oxygen uptake – study participants rode exercise bikes – were strongly associated with increased gray matter and total brain volume, regions involved in cognition. decline and aging.

Don’t feel like running or cycling? What about yoga? Researchers at the University of Illinois have found that yoga improves many of the same brain structures and functions that benefit from aerobic exercise. Yoga practitioners are shown to have larger brain structures, including the hippocampus, which processes memories and is known to shrink with age, as well as the emotional regulatory amygdala and prefrontal cortex.

“Yoga is not aerobic in nature, so there must be other mechanisms leading to these brain changes,” said lead researcher Neha Gothe. “So far, we don’t have the evidence to identify what these mechanisms are.”

If you can’t make time for yourself to exercise, researchers at the University of the Highlands of New Mexico have found that walking is also beneficial for the brain. “The impact of the foot while walking sends pressure waves through the arteries that dramatically alter and can increase the blood supply to the brain,” according to a research summary. So get started for better brain health.

4. Drink tea

Drinking lots of coffee can be good for warding off Alzheimer’s disease, but if you prefer tea, here’s the good news: Drinking tea is also good for your brain, according to a study from the National University of Singapore. After examining neuroimaging data from 36 regular tea drinkers aged 60 and over, the researchers found that they had better organized brain regions than non-tea drinkers.

“Our results provide the first evidence for the positive contribution of tea consumption to brain structure and suggest that regular tea consumption has a protective effect against age-related decline in brain organization,” said Feng Lei, head of the study. “When the connections between regions of the brain are more structured, information processing can be done more efficiently. “

Study participants drank green tea, oolong tea, or black tea at least four times per week.

3. Take care of your heart

There’s another benefit to taking good care of your heart – it’s also good for your brain, according to researchers at Emory University. They analyzed identical twins (they share 100 percent of genetic material) and found that people who reduced risk factors for cardiovascular health – blood sugar, serum cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index, physical activity, diet food and smoking – had better brains health.

“Our study on the whole sample of twins confirmed that a better [cardiovascular health] is associated with improved cognitive health in several areas, ”said lead author Viola Vaccarino. “The analyzes further suggested that familial factors shared by the twins explain much of the association and therefore may be important for cardiovascular and brain health.”

2. Forget

OK, this one is a little weird, and you probably do it every day anyway, but researchers at the University of Toronto have found that forgetting is good for the brain. “The purpose of memory is not to convey the most precise information over time, but to guide and optimize intelligent decision-making by retaining only valuable information,” according to a statement summarizing the study.

“It’s important for the brain to forget irrelevant details and instead focus on what will help make decisions in the real world,” study co-author Blake Richards said. “If you are trying to navigate the world and your brain is constantly conjuring up multiple conflicting memories, then it becomes more difficult for you to make an informed decision. “

Context plays an important role in these mechanisms. Researchers give the example of a cashier, who probably doesn’t need to remember the names of every customer, versus a designer who meets with customers regularly and should remember details.

1. Drink (low levels) alcohol

This one will probably help you forget, right? Obviously, you don’t want to drink too much, but researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have found that low levels of alcohol consumption dampen inflammation and help the brain flush out toxins, including those associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

To reach their conclusion, mice were exposed to low levels of alcohol over a long period of time, the human equivalent of 2.5 drinks per day. Compared to the mice that didn’t drink alcohol, the drinking animals had less inflammation in their brains, and their lymphatic systems were more efficient at pumping cerebrospinal fluid through the brain and removing waste.

“Studies have shown that low to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of dementia, while excessive alcohol consumption for many years confers an increased risk of cognitive decline,” said the main author Maiken Nedergaard. “This study may help explain why this is happening. Specifically, low doses of alcohol appear to improve overall brain health.


What probably doesn’t help: Brain games

Games that claim to make you smarter aren’t backed by science, researchers at Florida State University have said. In the study, they commissioned a group to play a video game specially designed for brain training called Frontiers of the mind, while another group solved crossword puzzles or number puzzles. Participants’ working memory and other mental abilities, such as reasoning, memory, and processing speed, were then tested to see if there were any improvements. Turns out the only thing people got better at was playing the games.

“It is possible to train people to become really good at tasks that you would normally consider general working memory tasks: memorizing 70, 80, even 100 digits,” said study co-author Neil. Charness. “But those skills tend to be very specific and don’t show a lot of transfer. What should be of particular concern to older people is that if I can get really good at crossword puzzles, will that help me remember where my keys are? And the answer is probably no.

What does he recommend instead to improve brain function? Exercise.