Most of us recognize that staying active and eating healthy are important to staying fit and living a long, active life. However, you might not think much about brain health until you reach an age where it becomes more of a concern. It’s never too early to start taking care of this most vital organ. Whatever your age, there are habits you can cultivate to support and maintain brain function and according to research, even ways to reverse aging by encouraging stem cell production.
Many of the changes that can help brain health are relatively simple, to the point that you might not associate them with better cognitive function. Starting with the basics is always necessary to provide a strong foundation for health.
Just 30 minutes of daily exercise can help reduce brain cell loss! Research has shown that physical activity can slow brain aging by 10 years. Further, it has been shown that dancing is advantageous for both maintaining and reversing signs of aging in the brain because it engages multiple areas for hand-eye coordination, execution and control of voluntary movement and the planning of fine and complex motor actions. Just dance!!
Maintain Your Social Life
People that have good social ties live longer and research suggests that people who are more socially engaged and have larger social networks tend to have a high level of cognitive function. Stay social!!
Use All Your Senses
Keep your eyes and ears sharp. Not only is it important for your senses to function properly in order for the brain to process your surroundings, but this can also have a major impact on social interaction. Those with hearing impairments may be less likely to engage with family and friends, which plays a big role in both brain and mental health. Eyes and ears open!!
Like a muscle, your brain needs to be exercised to stay healthy. Taking on new hobbies and learning new things is a great way to keep the brain working well. Engage in puzzles, trivia, games, reading, drawing, painting and other crafts, anything that stimulates mental activity. Exercise your brain!!
Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol is helpful, but it’s important to avoid toxins that may be lurking in places you might not consider. Processed foods are full of chemicals and inflammatory oils that wreak havoc on cells throughout the body. Most conventional body products, including shampoo, lotions and deodorant contain harmful phthalates and other substances that are absorbed by the skin within seconds. Healthy choices!!
Keep Your Levels in Check
High cholesterol and diabetes have both been linked with dementia. This is really important because there are risk factors associated with cognitive decline, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and blood sugars. Check your levels!!
Stress can kill brain cells and even reduce the size of the brain. Chronic stress has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Studies have shown that meditation, yoga and spending time in nature are effective ways to reduce feelings of stress and overwhelm. Less stress!!
Get Sufficient Sleep
Sleep is important to a number of brain functions, including how nerve cells communicate with each other. In fact, your brain and body stay remarkably active while you sleep. Sleep plays a housekeeping role that removes toxins in the brain that build up while you are awake, so don’t be shy about sleeping more than eight hours. More sleep!!
Focus on Gut Health
Research has shown that there is a vital connection between the gut and the brain. Several neurotransmitters are made in the gut, including up to 90% of serotonin. This is crucial for communication within the nervous system, but also for a healthy mood. Address digestive issues and be sure to include pre- and pro-biotics daily. Gut matters!!
No matter how many diet trends come and go, research supports that both the Japanese and Mediterranean-style diets are some of the best anti-inflammatory ways of eating. Healthy fats high in Omega-3, key to brain health and mood, high fiber and antioxidant-rich vegetables, grains and herbs. Focus on nutrient deficiencies then add them to your diet and supplement regimen; especially targeting protein, calcium, fiber, zinc, magnesium, iron and copper. Diet counts!!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Staying properly hydrated enables the brain to stay alert so we can keep our attention and focus. Drinking water also regulates the brain’s temperature and gets rid of toxins and dead cells. Studies have identified a link between dehydration and mood disturbances, showing that adequate hydration is just as important for mental health as it is for physical health. Drink lots of water!!
Address Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is a major contributing factor to aging in the brain and the body as a whole. Because the body’s ability to produce its own antioxidants declines with age, it is imperative to make lifestyle choices that reduce exposure to toxins and other things that create oxidative stress in the body. Proper levels of antioxidants leads to the production and function of neurotransmitters, supports the production of hormones and stem cells, which is key to keeping the brain functioning at its best. More antioxidants!
And finally, remember to Protect Your Head! Moderate to severe head injuries, even without diagnosed concussions, increase the risk of cognitive impairment.
Every year on April 22nd, people gather all around the world to celebrate a very special holiday – Earth Day. This event has been recognized since 1970 and promotes awareness of a multitude of environmental issues on a global scale. Annually, this recognition has a different Earth Day theme and this year’s theme is Invest In Our Planet which will center on “accelerating solutions to combat our greatest threat, climate change, and to activate everyone – governments, citizens, and businesses – to do their part”. Earthday.org (EDO) also encourages Earth Day observers to “recognize our collective responsibility and to help accelerate the transition to an equitable, prosperous green economy for all” according to press materials EDO sent, Green Matters, ahead of the public announcement. “For Earth Day 2022, we all need to come together,” Kathleen Rogers, President of EDO, tells Green Matters exclusively in an email.
Companies around the world understand that a real shift needs to be made to make a difference in our communities and on a larger scale. As pioneers in sustainability, Breckenridge Grand Vacations (BGV) is focusing on the triple bottom line to measure success and encouraging others to get on board. This means we are taking people, planet and prosperity into account when making each and every decision. By doing so, we are committing to the health of our community and our world every single day. At BGV, we celebrate Earth Day every day. What can you do to Invest In Our Planet? Join BGV and EARTHDAY.ORG in this movement and learn all the ways you can get involved here: Earth Day: The Official Site | EARTHDAY.ORG.
Colorado Mountain College (CMC) is in the business of changing lives. They do so by providing an affordable, high-quality education right here in beautiful Summit County. CMC students and graduates are essential members of our community as they prepare your taxes, cook extraordinary meals at your favorite restaurants, own local businesses, drive collective social and environmental action, provide health care services, keep our communities safe, and teach your elementary school students.
Thanks to the generosity of friends like you and partnerships with businesses such as Breckenridge Grand Vacations, CMC is thrilled about the opportunities they can provide to students and Summit County residents!
- Scholarships – Colorado Mountain College Foundation (CMCF) extended 111 scholarships to Summit County students this past academic year totaling $227,166 in awards. Initiated by the late Rob Millisor, Breckenridge Grand Vacations has generously supported an annual scholarship each year designed for a BGV employee or a child of a BGV employee. Interested? Additional details can be found here: BGV Scholarship.
- Student Housing – CMC is constructing 38 units (with approximately 50-60 beds) of on-campus apartment-style student housing locally to address the difficulty many students have finding a place to live. Construction is scheduled to be completed by Fall 2023 and ready for leasing to students.
- Health Focused Capital Campaign – CMC is responding to the growing need for nurses in our mountain community by constructing a new high-fidelity nursing simulation lab that will double the number of nursing students CMC can enroll annually. Plans also include the addition of an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)/Outdoor Education Technician (OUT) skills lab including a two-story repelling wall to ensure qualified graduates can respond during emergency care situations. CMCF seeks to raise $2 million to support the construction of this new facility that at full capacity can support 70 nursing students and 425 EMT/OUT students annually. Interested? Join us either as a donor or a student in EMT or nursing!
- Affordable & Adventurous – The tuition for a bachelor’s degree at CMC is one of the lowest in the country and is the lowest in Colorado. CMC offers 7 bachelor degrees, 54 associate degrees, 77 certificate programs and international Study Abroad trips. Check out the 2022 class offerings!
- Common Reader – Free event with Colorado’s own Craig Childs, America’s finest naturalist and adventurer. His book, The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild, recounts dramatic, face-to-face meetings with sharks, bears, pumas, and winged species. Join us either in-person on March 30th at 7pm at the Breckenridge campus or live stream. Need the book? Contact Sarah Grant firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colorado Mountain College is looking forward to a big year in Summit County and whether you join CMC for a one-night culinary cooking class, enroll as a full-time student, volunteer as a mentor, or provide pathways for students to pursue their dreams and enhance our economy – CMC is a college that is here for you!
To learn more about CMC Foundation or to give, visit www.coloradomtn.edu/foundation or contact Sarah Grant at email@example.com.