Revitalize Your Brain Health With 6 Science-Backed Pillars
If you're jaded from reading one too many self-help articles (who isn't?), you'll want to read this guide carefully.
Incorporating the six pillars of brain health — nutrition, sleep, exercise, stress management, social engagement, and cognitive stimulation — into your daily routine can bring potent lifelong benefits.
What struck us when putting this guide together is that making new life-changing habits does not have to be difficult. These habits can be fun, simple, and rewarding to stick to! We packed this guide with ideas to get you started. Let's dig in!
Pillar 1: Nourish Your Brain with Nutrition
What we eat not only affects our physical health but also impacts our brain health.
What foods should you eat? Research suggests that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats is the way to go.
- Leafy greens, like spinach and kale, are high in vitamins and antioxidants that can protect the brain from damage.
- Berries, such as blueberries and strawberries, are rich in flavonoids that can improve cognitive function.
- Fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, are high in omega-3 fatty acids that can support brain health and immune function. Can’t stand fish? Our sustainably-sourced fish oil supplement comes in a once-daily, easy-to-swallow softgel.
- Nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flaxseeds, are high in healthy fats and can promote cognitive function.
Be sure to aim for variety in your diet to ensure you're getting a range of nutrients!
Pillar 2: Prioritize Sleep for a Healthy Brain
We’ve all heard (and heard… and heard again) that a good night's sleep is crucial for health and well-being, but did you know it's also essential for brain health? When we sleep, our brains consolidate memories, repair and regenerate cells, and flush out toxins that contribute to cognitive decline. So, if you're not prioritizing sleep, you may be putting your brain health at risk.
How much sleep do you need? While the ideal amount of sleep can vary from person to person, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. However, it's not just about quantity – quality matters too. Here are some tips for improving the quality of your sleep:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it, even on weekends.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine that helps signal to your body that it's time to sleep. This could include reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.
- Make your bedroom a sleep-friendly environment by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine in the hours leading up to bedtime, as these can interfere with sleep.
- Limit exposure to screens, such as phones and laptops, in the hours before bed, as the blue light they emit can disrupt the body's natural sleep-wake cycle.
Pillar 3: Exercise for a Better Brain
Exercise is not only good for your physical health, but it can also improve brain function and protect against cognitive decline. Physical activity increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain, promotes the growth of new brain cells, and reduces inflammation in the brain. Even small amounts of exercise can make a big difference. Try to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
Tips for incorporating exercise into your daily routine:
- Exercise doesn’t have to be pure suffering. What if you chose an activity you enjoyed — like walking peacefully through the neighborhood, dancing, hiking with friends, or playing a sport?
- Break up your exercise routine into shorter sessions throughout the day.
- Make it a habit by scheduling exercise into your daily routine. Treat it like an appointment.
Exercise isn't just about physical fitness — it's also one of the best things you can do for your brain.
Pillar 4: Manage Stress for a Healthier Brain
Stress is a part of life, but too much of it can take a toll on our physical and mental health – including our brain health. Chronic stress has been linked to increased inflammation in the brain, reduced cognitive function, and a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
While we can't always control the sources of stress in our lives, we can practice managing our response to it. Here are tips to help you do just that:
- Engage in physical activity, like exercise or dancing, to reduce stress and boost mood.
- Carve out time for activities you enjoy to help you relax and recharge.
- Connect with others! Spending time with friends and loved ones can reduce stress and boost feelings of well-being.
- Seek help from a mental health professional if you're struggling with chronic stress or anxiety.
Bonus Tip: Practice Mindfulness for Stress Relief
Mindfulness — the practice of being present and non-judgmental in the moment — has been shown to be an effective way to reduce stress and improve brain function. Try incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine by setting aside a few minutes each day to focus on your breath and observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment. You can also try a mindfulness-based stress reduction program or guided meditation to help build your mindfulness skills.
Pillar 5: Connect with Others for a Healthier Brain
Humans are social creatures, and our brains thrive on social connections. Studies have shown that social engagement can reduce the risk of cognitive decline, improve memory and cognitive function, and even protect against depression and anxiety.
How can you stay socially engaged and support your brain health?
- Join a club or group based on your interests, such as a book club or hiking group.
- Volunteer for a cause you're passionate about, whether at a local organization or online.
- Take a class, attend a workshop, or join a Facebook Group to get together with other folks around a shared interest. If you’re an introvert, it’s much easier to connect with people who are excited by the same thing you are!
- Connect with friends and loved ones regularly in person, over the phone, or online.
- Consider getting a pet – research has shown that owning a pet can provide social support and improve mental health.
Staying socially engaged doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming. It's simply about connecting with others to support your brain health and overall well-being.
The Power of Volunteerism
One great way to stay socially engaged and support your brain health is through volunteer work. Volunteering provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment and can also help you connect with others and build meaningful relationships. Research has shown that volunteering can even reduce the risk of cognitive decline and improve overall well-being.
Consider volunteering for a cause you're passionate about – whether at a local organization, online, or even in your community.
Pillar 6: Keep Your Brain Active with Cognitive Stimulation
Our brains are incredible machines that thrive on new experiences and challenges. Challenging your brain with new activities and experiences can help improve cognitive function, boost memory and learning, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
How can you give your brain a workout in a fun way?
- Learn a new language or musical instrument.
- Take a class or attend a workshop on a topic you're interested in.
- Engage in brain games or puzzles, such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or chess.
- Read books or articles in topics you're not familiar with. You may discover new interests!
- Travel to new places and try new experiences.
The key to cognitive stimulation is to challenge your brain with new activities and experiences that push you out of your comfort zone. Incorporate cognitive stimulation activities into your daily routine to keep your brain healthy and active.
Make Cognitive Stimulation a Lifelong Habit
While cognitive stimulation is important at any age, it's especially important as we age. As we get older, our brains naturally undergo changes that can affect cognitive function and memory. But research has shown that engaging in cognitive stimulation activities can help slow down these changes and support brain health as we age.
Make cognitive stimulation a lifelong habit by seeking out new experiences and challenges, even as you get older. Whether it's trying a new hobby, taking a class, or traveling to a new destination, keep your brain active and engaged for a healthier and happier life.
Best Nest Wellness Has the Specialized Nutrition to Support Brain Function
As you participate in these lifestyle tips, don't forget to give your brain the essential nutrients it needs to function at its best. Best Nest Wellness offers a range of high-quality supplements specifically designed to optimize your brain function at every stage of life.
- Our multivitamin line features methylated vitamins that support healthy neuro-development, impressive memory, a happy mood, sharp focus, and restful sleep.
- Our probiotics cater to each life stage, supporting a healthy gut-brain connection that has been shown to impact your overall brain health.
- Our DHA supplements play a crucial role in brain cell formation, neuron growth, and their connections.
Give your mind what it needs by incorporating engaging activities and nutrition into your life. It doesn't have to be complicated! A few adjustments to your daily routine can make a big difference in your long-term brain health and overall well-being.