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Why a brain-healthy lifestyle is so important

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.

All Slidedecks & Recordings Available — click image below

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About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters, and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm and think tank tracking health and performance applications of brain science.