Ironically, we tend to go about our day without thinking much about our brains themselves–the very organ that is responsible for thinking. And yet, your brain is needed for every single biological function. A healthy brain doesn’t just happen, especially as you age. For good brain health, you need to be intentional and proactive. If you aren’t already conscientious about your cognitive health, here are three reasons to start thinking more about it.
Cognitive Health Declines With Age
Cognitive health is an important aspect of your brain health. It is defined as the ability to think clearly, learn easily, and retain what you learn. Typically, cognitive function declines with age. As you age both structural and functional changes occur. In fact, brain size decreases with age, especially in the prefrontal cortex. This leads to a decline in your ability to process information quickly, retain new information, stay attentive, and coordinate all other cognitive abilities.
Illness Can Impact Cognitive Health
Illness can also impact your brain. High blood pressure and depression have been shown to reduce your cognitive health. Additionally, common age-related diseases can accelerate cognitive decline. Some examples of this are stroke, dementia, and diabetes. As we have seen recently, COVID-19 can also decrease your cognitive health. Brain fog, including memory decline, can be a symptom of long COVID. If you are experiencing cognitive symptoms due to COVID-19, your best remedy is regular exercise. Even walking just 20 minutes per day will increase your blood flow and help your brain to heal.
You Can Improve Your Cognitive Health
Luckily, the data shows that there are steps you can take to minimize your cognitive decline with age and heal your brain after an illness. In addition to exercising regularly, you can improve your diet by cutting out unhealthy fats and sugars while increasing your intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids. Other ways to improve your cognition are to get plenty of sleep, learn new skills, keep your mind active and engaged, stay connected socially, and manage your stress.
It is normal to experience some cognitive decline with age and illness. However, you can greatly reduce the effects by making smart lifestyle choices. It may seem like exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep are the answers to everything, but that is only because they really are! By taking charge of your health you will impact every aspect of your life, including your cognitive health.
Check out this article on tips for improving your mental health!