Eat, train and play your way to superior brain health

With around 100 billion neurons the human brain is the most complex and marvellous object that we know of in nature. Just like any other organ the brain will naturally deteriorate over time, so it is vital that we do whatever we can to keep the brain fit and firing on all cylinders.

So what can you do to keep your brain in tip top shape? Research suggests that there is more than one way to conserve your grey matter.

Food for thought
If you want to make sure you are eating with your brain in mind (pun intended), the first step is to ensure your general diet is healthy. As a rule of thumb, a diet that is good for your heart and keeps your weight under control is going to be good for your brain too. Factors such as reducing cholesterol and fats, as well as a balanced intake of proteins and carbohydrates are all important.

Once you have your basic diet in check, there are specific foods that many believe have positive effects on brain health. Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, such as sprouts, spinach, broccoli, beets, onions, blue berries, strawberries, plums and red grapes are good examples. Cold water fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout and tuna, should also be regulars on the shopping list. Look for foods that provided nutrients such as vitamin B12, C, E and folate too.

Healthy body, healthy mind
Physical activity is closely linked with good brain health. Good blood flow to the brain will keep it in better shape, so aerobic exercises which help prevent stroke and other vascular disorders are going to benefit the brain and help reduce brain cell loss. You don’t have to run marathons to make an impact either; just make it moderate and keep it regular, such as walking, cycling or low-impact exercises such as yoga or Pilates.

Training the brain
There is no doubt that certain brain functions simply deteriorate with age, such as memory and multi-tasking skills. Recent research, however, is suggesting that specific mental activities that challenge and stimulate those functions can make improvements. Purpose-built brain training games and exercises have been developed by organisations such as Lumosity or the Active Memory joint venture project. If you haven’t tried it already, playing these ‘mind games’ can be both fun and educational at the same time and are intended to keep you sharp and fit for a long time to come.

To exercise your mind further on the possibilities, take a look at these sites: