Today we’re talking about Brain Health. You can take steps to keep your brain healthy. These steps may also have other health benefits, such as helping you control your weight, lower your risk of heart disease and live a healthy, active life as you age. Research is ongoing to see if these healthy habits can also prevent or slow Alzheimer’s disease.

1. Stay socially engaged.

Interacting with other people stimulates the brain. Spend time with family and friends. It’s also good to reach out to new people. Join a community group or volunteer at a library or senior center. Combining physical activity with socializing may have even more benefits. Join a walking group or square dance club.

2. Keep your mind sharp.

Just like with muscle strength, when it comes to brain power it’s “use it or lose it.” Challenge yourself by doing puzzles, learning new card games or taking up a new sport. Don’t do the same things the same way with the same people. Seek out new experiences. Take a class in something you’ve always been curious about, whether it’s pottery, philosophy or welding. Join a book club or quilting group. When you walk or drive, take different routes.

3. Eat a heart-healthy diet.

Studies suggest that a diet that’s good for your heart is also good for your brain. A heart-healthy diet is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt and includes plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Choose colorful fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, such as blueberries, strawberries, broccoli, spinach and red peppers. Add foods high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna and salmon.

4. Get regular exercise.

Physical activity helps increase blood flow to the brain and can improve mood. It also lowers the risk of diseases that can lead to dementia, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Pick an activity you enjoy and can stick with. Even better, find a partner to do it with you. Walking, swimming, biking and yoga are some good choices. Remember, always check with your doctor before you increase your physical activity.

5. Protect your brain.

Take measures to prevent head injuries, which can jar and damage the brain. This means wearing helmets for bike riding, skiing and motorcycle riding. Also, wear seat belts when driving.

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