Healthy Life

The Brain Health Method: The Power of Six

November 9, 2022

Six simple things you can do every day to stay sharp, feel good, and reduce the risk of neurodegeneration

It’s not often that people think about the physiological health of their brain – and it’s easy to think there’s nothing you can do to keep your brain healthy as you get older.  But there are lots of small changes you can make that will keep you sharp and help you feel good too. 

Even something as seemingly simple – and enjoyable – as spending time with your friends and family could make a real difference.

At Brain Health Network, we’ve identified six simple pillars that are key to maintaining your brain health as the years go by. These are: a healthy diet; sleeping well; exercising; looking after a healthy gut and your gut-brain axis; keeping your mind active; and, of course, overall healthy living. Together, they form The Brain Health Method.

Spending a little time on each of these six things every day could help you feel good and stay sharp. It is never too late (or too early) to start looking after your brain health – so, why not start today?

1. Healthy Life 

Live your life, love your brain

Evidence is mounting that a healthy lifestyle can help keep dementia at bay. While it’s easy to think of dementia as an inevitable consequence of growing older, it is anything but. 

A pivotal paper in 2020 identified 12 lifestyle and environmental factors, from obesity and high blood pressure to air pollution and hearing loss, which may be responsible for 40% of cases of dementia. In other words, nearly half of all cases could potentially be delayed or prevented.

2. Nutrition

Eat your way to a healthier brain

You are what you eat, so the saying goes, and your brain health is no exception. In fact, of all the lifestyle factors that affect our brain health, the food we eat is the one we have the most control over.

The right foods fuel our brain cells and make them more efficient at transmitting information and at making new connections between brain areas, which helps with memory and learning. The right diet can also help reduce potentially harmful inflammation.  

3. Sleep 

Wake up to the benefits of a good night’s sleep

Imagine if you could sleep your way to good brain health…  It might be more than a dream.

Sleep is believed to be key to the formation of new memories and to the clearing out of toxins that have built up in the brain. This includes beta-amyloid, a sticky protein that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Both the quantity and quality of sleep are thought to be important.

4. Exercise 

Why the benefits of exercise are worth bottling

A wealth of scientific research has shown that greater amounts of physical activity are associated with a reduced risk of dementia in later life. 

If strenuous exercise seems daunting or even impossible, take heart, because while there’s evidence that the more vigorous your activity, the bigger the benefit to your brain health, even just being more active in everyday life can make a significant difference, too.

5. Gut health 

A gutsy route to a healthy brain

In a healthy gut, ‘good’ bacteria keep ‘bad’ bacteria in check. If something disturbs this delicate balance, the body can become more vulnerable to disease, including, potentially Alzheimer’s.

The balance of ‘good’ bacteria can fall as we age but studies have suggested that changing the make-up of our gut bacteria, through diet, probiotics or prebiotics, can lead to positive changes in brain function, including some associated with learning and memory.

6. Active mind

Active mind, healthy brain

Whether it’s spending time with the family, reading a book, finishing the crossword or learning to juggle, evidence is growing that keeping your mind active will help maintain your mental fitness.

There isn’t a ‘magic bullet’ – one activity that has been shown to be better than others for keeping the brain healthy – and so experts advise doing the things you like to do. Go on, have fun!