How can I maintain a healthy brain?

Brain Development Read more from
Chapter Brain and Behavior

Agrowing body of research has yielded clues as to the best way to maintain a healthy brain. This becomes especially important as the U.S. population is living longer. In fact, the average lifespan in the United States has increased 32 years over the course of the twentieth century. In the coming decades, therefore, we can expect far more people to live into their seventies, eighties, and nineties than ever before. There are many ways to promote the brain’s health. General approaches to healthy living reduce cardiovascular disease, which is one of the main culprits in dementia. Nutritious meals, regular exercise, and avoidance of excessive alcohol, weight gain, and smoking are all important. Exercise, in particular, has been shown to protect cognition in older people, probably by promoting blood flow into the brain.

Good mental health is also important, as depression and excessive stress put strain on the brain. Mental stimulation is helpful, as well. Keep in mind that these factors all work together. Mentally active people with good social support are more likely to be happy and physically more active. Furthermore, you should not wait until you retire to start healthy behavior. It is important to instill good habits while still young. At any given time, our brain reflects our entire lifetime of experience.


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