How can I slow down brain aging?

I have great news for you! After years of analyzing brain scans and treating patients, I have discovered that there are many simple things you can do on a daily basis to boost your brain function.

Protect your brain: Be conscious of how precious it is to you and your loved ones.
New learning: The brain is like a muscle. The more you use it, the more you can continue to use it. New learning makes new connections in the brain, making you sharper and more efficient.
Eat a good diet: Getting good nutrition is essential to good brain function and to a better body. A healthy diet includes lean protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats like olive oil. Studies show that your brain works better if you eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Take daily vitamins, minerals, and fish oil: Because most of us do not get all the nutrients we need from the foods we eat, I recommend that everybody take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement. I also urge people to take a daily fish oil and vitamin D if your levels are low.
Exercise: When it comes to the brain, exercise acts like the fountain of youth. It boosts blood flow, increases the brain’s use of oxygen, and improves your brain’s response to stress. It is the single most important thing you can do to keep your brain healthy.
Get enough sleep: Getting at least seven hours of sleep at night has been shown to help keep your brain functioning at optimal levels, keep your appetite in check, and help your skin look younger. 
Relax/Meditate: Learning how to counteract stress helps your brain work better, puts you in a better mood, and protects you from cognitive decline.
Practice Gratitude: When you focus on what you love, your brain works better, you are more coordinated, and you feel better. Write down 5 things you are grateful for every day. In just three weeks you will have a notice a significant positive difference in your level of happiness!
Balance Your Hormones: Hormones such as estrogen and testosterone play a key role in maintaining the health and vitality of your brain and body. Measure your important health numbers and then create a plan for optimizing them.
Treat Mental Disorders: A strong link between mental disorders and physical illnesses and conditions has been well established. Treating mental conditions improves brain function and general health and well-being.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
No matter what part of the body we're talking about, most everything follows the same mantra: Use it or lose it.

If you don't work your muscles, they'll turn to mashed potatoes. If you don't exercise your heart, your arteries will become more clogged than Chewbacca's shower drain. And even urologists give men the same advice when it comes to erectile potency: If you want to keep on writing, you better sharpen the pencil.

It's no different with your brain; in fact, you should approach exercising your brain with the same regularity as you do with any other exercise. Keeping your brain emotionally and mentally active helps prevent memory loss.

If you can find ways to stretch yourself mentally, you'll actually avoid brain shrinkage. The classic way to do this is to learn something new-whether it's learning how to speak Spanish, play Sousa tunes on the harmonica, or rebuild a car engine. The point is that you're using parts of your brain that you normally don't. Like muscles, your brain grows when it's working outside of normal.

However, these mental exercises need to be challenging enough to make your brain flex its muscles. There's no prescription that will work for everyone. Everybody has such diverse interests that you're the only one who can choose the activities that will stretch your mind beyond its normal capabilities. However, you need to choose something you truly enjoy because the brain challenge should feel like recess, not study hall.

In additional to challenging mental exercises, education, optimism, vacations, daydreaming, and avoiding monotonous daily routines can all help keep your brain sharper and younger, too.
YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

More About this Book

YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

Between your full-length mirror and high-school biology class, you probably think you know a lot about the human body. While it's true that we live in an age when we're as obsessed with our bodies as...
Sharine Forbes
Geriatric Medicine

In recent years, it has been discovered that people who take a holistic approach to their health tend to have overall better results in their elder years. That being said, individuals who regularly exercise reduce the risk of cognitive decline by 20% (Weuve et al. 2004) as it helps deliver blood and oxygen (Williams & Kemper 2010) to the brain which is imperative to its essential functioning. Additionally, it is also recommended to have a diet that is high in Omega 3's and low in fatty food. Furthermore, having a strong social circle and participating in activities can help reduce cognitive aging. 

Deepak Chopra
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
There are many ways to stay mentally youthful as you get older, says health expert Deepak Chopra, MD. In this video, the founder of the Chopra Foundation and the Chopra Center for Wellbeing talks about easy ways to keep your brain sharp as the years go by.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.