To have a healthy life, your cognitive health is as important as your physical health, if not more, according to Dr Amir-Homayoun Javadi from the University’s School of Psychology. For Brain Awareness Week (14-20 March), Dr Javadi shares five tips for maintaining a healthy brain.
- Cognitive engagement – Perhaps the most important tip is to keep your brain active by doing things such as learning new things, planning your shopping list or playing a diverse range of games. This will activate different parts of the brain. Neurons are just like muscle, if you don’t use them, you’ll lose them. By activating them you can help keep them healthy.
- Social interaction – Social interaction is way more than ‘having a good time’. It comes with many things such as talking, remembering, or planning. While independent learning and activities are important you can go only so far with them. Social interactions activate a lot of other brain areas that are rarely involved in other tasks.
- Physical exercise – Exercise and physical activity improve cardiovascular fitness, increase blood circulation, strengthen the immune system, and importantly help with the generation of new neurons and repairment of the brain tissue.
- Balanced diet – While our brain is only 2% of our body, it consumes 20% of the body’s calories. Not only that, but also the brain needs a lot of ingredients for proper functioning, such as omega-3 in fish and nuts, antioxidants in berries and different vitamins and minerals.
- Mental health – This one is perhaps the most difficult one; stress and anxiety impair the brain health and function. There are a lot of methods such as meditation and mindfulness that can help to relax and benefit our mental health.