The reasons for this may range from "mum brain" to aging, busyness, or the sheer volume of information our brains must process. While these factors may indeed contribute, we have the power to choose whether to accept them or to explore new strategies for improvement. Recent research from the United States suggests that our health in our 40s and 50s can predict the likelihood of developing conditions like Alzheimer's and dementia, offering hope for proactive measures to enhance our brain health.

Why Brain Health Matters:

Our brain serves as the control centre for our entire body, influencing our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Optimal brain health is vital for cognitive function, emotional well-being, and overall quality of life. Furthermore, it plays a pivotal role in preventing age-related cognitive decline.

Strategies for Optimal Brain Health:

  1. Stay Mentally Active: Engage your brain daily through activities such as puzzles, reading, acquiring new skills, or pursuing creative hobbies. Mental stimulation is akin to exercise for your brain. Just as physical muscles atrophy without use, so do neural pathways in our brains. Incorporate a daily brain activity into your routine to keep your cognitive functions sharp
  2. Get Quality Sleep: Quality, restful sleep is essential for brain function. Aim for 7-9 hours of restorative sleep each night to support memory consolidation and cognitive abilities. Understand that sleep is not a waste of time but a critical period during which our brains detoxify.
  3. Manage Stress: Chronic stress can harm brain health. Practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and grounding throughout the day to protect your brain.
  4. Regular Physical Activity: Exercise enhances blood flow, reduces inflammation, and boosts neuroplasticity—your brain's adaptability.
  5. Socialise: Human connection is vital for brain health. Engage in social activities with friends and family to keep your brain engaged and emotionally fulfilled.

Brain-Nourishing Foods:

  • Fatty Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon, mackerel, and trout support brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
  • Berries: Berries such as blueberries and blackberries are rich in antioxidants that protect the brain from oxidative stress and may enhance memory.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds offer healthy fats, antioxidants, and brain-supporting vitamins.
  • Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens provide vitamins and antioxidants, including folate and vitamin K, which may help slow cognitive decline.
  • Turmeric: Curcumin in turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that support brain health and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Dark Chocolate: Flavonoids in dark chocolate improve blood flow to the brain and may enhance cognitive function.
  • Avocado: Monounsaturated fats in avocados support overall brain health. As our brains are a major fat organ we do need to eat a range of good quality sources of fat to have optimal brain function and prevent cognitive decline.

Caring for your brain is an investment in your overall well-being. By incorporating these strategies and brain-boosting foods into your daily life, you can promote optimal brain health, enhance cognitive function, and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline. Remember that small, consistent changes in your lifestyle and diet can lead to significant improvements in your brain health.

Shelley Gawith is a Member of Co.OfWomen and a highly respected Functional Nutritionist