The latest scientific research shows that specific lifestyles and actions can, no matter our age, improve the health and level of functioning of our brains. Such improvement can happen thanks to neuroplasticity that is, when the rate of creation and survival of new neurons in certain parts of the brain is increased, or when the rate of creation and survival of synapses (the connections between neurons) speeds up, or when a neurochemical environment is nurtured in our brains to support information processing.
The nice thing about discovering that our lifestyle can affect brain functions is that it puts our brain health largely under our own control. However there is no magic formula. Scientists are only beginning to understand how what we do can interact with our genetic makeup. As to now, it is not possible to define which actions are the best for which individuals. It is likely that there will never be one general solution that solves all the challenges inherent in maintaining one’s brain health. Dr. Art Kramer, whose interview can be found at the end of this Chapter, points out that a multitude of approaches will be necessary.
So what factors have an influence on brain health?
Current recommendations suggest that a brain-healthy life style should include at least balanced nutrition, stress management, physical exercise, and brain exercise. Other factors may also have an influence. Dr. Elizabeth Zelinski, whose interview can be found at the end of the present Chapter, points out that it is also important to maintain emotional connections. Not only with ourselves, to have self-confidence and self-esteem, but also with our family our friends. Sleep and overall health conditions are other factors that also matter.
Here we focus on the four main pillars of brain health:
- Balanced nutrition
- Stress management
- Physical exercise
- Mental stimulation
This new online resource is based on the content from the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness, by Alvaro Fernandez and Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg.