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How to Protect your Brain Health

The keys to maintaining your physical health and living longer are pretty common sense: work out regularly, eat your veggies, get plenty of sleep, don’t smoke, avoid BASE jumping from skyscrapers. Standard stuff.

But your brain needs just as much diligent care as the rest of your body. It’s the most important organ you have — it’s what makes you you — and once it goes into decline, it’s pretty tough to correct. To fend off scary late-in-life mental illnesses, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, there are a few specific habits you can adopt today to give your brain the best chance of staying in tip-top shape. Maybe you’ll even start remembering where you put your keys.

Get moving

If all the physical benefits of exercise aren’t enticing enough to motivate you, think of it as a tune-up for your brain. “There is ample evidence showing physical activity is beneficial for brain health,” says Dr. Jaydeep M. Bhatt, a neurologist at NYU Langone. “If you are cleared by your primary care provider, cardiovascular exercises (activity that increases your heart rate at a safe rate) are ideal.”

Although longer periods of aerobic exercise are best for brain health (compared to HIIT and other short-burst workouts), you don’t need to be a marathon runner to reap the rewards. Dr. Bhatt says something is better than nothing, so it could be as simple as going for a walk or taking the stairs. Find something that won’t make you despise life, and stick with it.

Eat a Mediterranean(ish) diet

Every body is different; it’s why that one annoying friend of yours can eat total garbage all the time and not gain a pound, and others seem to go up a dress size just by looking at a piece of pizza. It’s also why some people find weight-loss success on seemingly outrageous diets like keto or intermittent fasting, while others prefer to keep it vegan or low-fat. You do you.

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