(NC) — Baby boomers often think of 50 as the new 40. This is especially true now as the last members of the think-young generation reach the half-century mark. With an unprecedented life expectancy of 78.7 years for the youngest of the boomers, we are all being encouraged to incorporate healthy habits to keep our minds beautiful during the second half of life.
The latest science indicates that there are simple, but powerful, steps you can take to help your brain remain strong and healthy as you age. A partnership between the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) in Washington, D.C. and the life’sDHAbrand, identifies key lifestyle factors known as the “Four Dimensions of Brain Health” that can make a positive impact throughout life. The campaign, Beautiful Minds: Finding Your Lifelong Potential, names these factors as: diet and nutrition, physical health, mental health and social well-being.
“Keeping the brain healthy is easier than many people realize. Everyday actions such as maintaining a diet including DHA omega-3 and other important nutrients like vitamin E and lutein, as well as staying active physically, mentally and socially, are all good ways to maintain long-term brain health and cognition,” says Dr. Michael Roizen, the co-founder of Real Age Inc. Dr. Roizen is also an author and advisor to the Beautiful Minds campaign.
Here are a few concepts that can help in understanding how to maintain a healthy brain at every age:
The nourished mind
Many important dietary nutrients help to promote brain health, but recent research indicates a potential link between three key nutrients and a reduced risk of cognitive decline. Those nutrients are DHA omega-3, vitamin E and lutein.
For years, research has demonstrated the benefits of DHA in maintaining brain health, yet most people eating a western diet don’t get enough DHA. It can be found naturally in fatty fish such as salmon and ocean trout, along with DHA-fortified foods like juice, milk, eggs, tortillas, yogurt, and algal DHAsupplements.
A study recently published in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that vitamin E may positively impact functional performance among participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin E can be found in milk, butter, eggs, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, wheat germ and dark leafy greens like spinach, and is available as a supplement.
Additionally, new research on lutein, typically known for its benefits to eye health, has found a correlation between positive cognitive function in healthy older people and a diet rich in lutein. Incorporate lutein superfoods into your diet, such as dark leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, collards and turnip greens, or egg yolks, peas and corn.
The physically active mind
Research has found associations between physical activity and improved cognitive skills. Engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day may encourage new brain cells and connections. Take a walk over lunch, take the stairs instead of the elevator, join a club sporting league, or do something you enjoy outdoors.
The mentally engaged mind
Studies have suggested that brain cells, much like muscle cells, can grow bigger and stronger with cognitive challenges and stimulation. People who continue to learn new activities and develop new skills and interests are exercising their brains in ways that may help to build connections in the brain, helping to support brain function.
The socially connected mind
Evidence supports the idea that social connectedness is vital to health, wellness and longevity. Experts theorize that having a rich social network may also help support brain health in a variety of ways, including providing us with better resources and stimulation. Staying socially connected helps you feel like you’re a part of something whether that is a club, a religious congregation or a volunteer group.