So, let's move on to look at things you can do to make your life better and keep your mind sharp as you age.
Eat Right, Mind Your Diet and Keep Moving
It sounds simple just saying to eat right, but with all the fad diets and questionable plans out there, the best thing you can do is just to eat right for your needs. No matter what type of diet you go on, eating fresh local produce is better for you than any other type of food. Try making half your plate veggies and a fourth of it fruit, and you will automatically feel healthier. Your mind will become sharper too. The reason is that your brain needs glucose to work best, and the easiest way to use glucose in a healthy way is from fresh produce like fruit and veggies.
- Eat More Fruit ? Some people are afraid of fruit but if you don?t have diabetes, you can and should eat fruit. Don?t drink fruit; eat it. Eating berries is especially very good for you. Fruit is fantastic for brain health. The more colorful the fruit, the more you should eat of it. Dementia is marked by plaque build-up in the brain, but fruit can help reduce that.
- Eat More Veggies ? Just like fruit, veggies help reduce oxidative stress which is thought to be one of the causes or contributors to different forms of cognitive decline (including various forms of dementia and Alzheimer?s disease). This makes veggies one of the most important things you should consume.
- Drink Lots of Fresh Filtered Water ? Most of us are walking around slightly dehydrated because we have learned to ignore our thirst cues. In fact, your body wants water so much that sometimes it tells you that you are hungry in hopes you?ll eat something with moisture. Your brain cells require a certain balance of compounds, including water, to work properly. If you are fully hydrated, you?ll be less likely to suffer cloudy thinking.
- Avoid Processed Food and Sugar ? Every diet that exists asks that you stop eating processed food and sugar. No one is ever going to say that it?s a good thing to eat this stuff. Therefore, regardless of the type of diet that you choose to follow, stop eating processed food and sugar as much as you can other than the occasional treat.
- Eat Fewer Simple Carbohydrates ? While today there is no such thing as “complex carbs” or carb combining to create a “complete” protein, the fact is that some carbohydrates can contribute to weight gain as well as blood sugar issues in some people. White rice, white noodles, white pizza crust are all examples of this. However, you don?t need to stop eating it; just eat less and watch your serving sizes.
- Eat Healthy Protein ? When it comes to eating protein, your body needs some protein to run properly. However, it can make protein out of the food you consume if you are consuming enough calories. You only need about 15 percent of your caloric intake to be from protein, but you can go up to 30 percent if that makes you feel better. Choose from lean fish, turkey, chicken, beef, pork, and tofu. Choose cage-free, grass-fed, organic choices in the right serving sizes, which for most people is about the size of the palm of your hand.
- Eat the Right Serving Sizes ? Whether we like it or not, calories matter. You can find out what your calorie needs are by looking at a chart, or you can even get tested to find out how much your body metabolizes. Just go by the weight you want to be on the chart (https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html). For example, a 5-foot 5-inch 52-year-old woman who weighs or wants to weigh 135 pounds can eat about 1223 calories a day if she only sits around and never moves. That?s the baseline that she needs to maintain this weight.
- Eat When You?re Hungry ? You really don?t need to eat at prescribed times. Just because the clock says it's time to eat, doesn?t mean you need to eat. If you are not hungry, you don?t need to eat. If you just eat when you have real stomach hunger, you usually can?t overeat. If you need to be on top of your game brain-wise, it?s a great day for starting the day with a fruit and yogurt smoothie bowl.
When you focus on eating right at least 80 percent of the time and moving enough at least 80 percent of the time, guess what – you will experience at least 80 percent of the results that you wanted before you started. This is just a way to tell you that you don?t have to be perfect to experience the benefits of eating right when it comes to your brain health. Add in exercise, and you can eat more and still benefit from a proper diet.
Exercise and Move More
No matter your age or physical fitness level right now, moving more is going to benefit you unless you have an illness where your doctor asks you not to move. And that is very rare because the human body simply works better when it?s in motion regularly. In fact, it?s said that sitting more than four hours a day at a stretch is worse than smoking.
And, one of the very best things you can do for your health is not to smoke. So, it makes sense that you need to move more. But, like most things, it really doesn?t take much to make exercise pay off.
- Do What You Love Doing ? Don?t think that you must do any type of exercise you don?t like. You don?t. You can find something that will work and that you like doing and can get through without too much discomfort. The important thing is to do something each day. Even if all you do is go for a twenty-minute walk after dinner, that?s better than doing nothing.
- Try Something Once ? If you?re not sure about something and you think it?s safe for you to try (ask your doctor if you?re unsure), go ahead and try it at least once. You might love rebounding, hot yoga, or pole dancing. Who knows what you will like until you give it a try? Hint: trying something new can become the entire exercise when you?re being active. You don?t have to do anything twice.
- Try a Group Class ? One way to get motivated is to go to a group class. Group classes often have an emphasis on helping motivate each other. It?s also fun to socialize at the same time. Try a group water aerobics class or if you are at a higher level, try a group cycling class so that you challenge yourself more.
- Do It at Home ? Even if you don?t want to be around other people when you sweat, today you can do so much at home. There are videos with any type of exercise class you want to join that you can watch right on your television anytime you want to. These can be found on Amazon Prime or you can rent or purchase them.
- Find a Friend ? If you have some energetic friends already, get together to do some form of exercise. You can make it a regular date with each of your friends to do something physical together. For example, you can hike with Sue on Sunday and go to Jazzercise class with Rebecca on Tuesday.
- Learn from an Expert ? When you are learning something new, it?s also a good idea (if you can afford it) to take a class or hire an expert to teach you the right form. You may also enjoy the movements more when you know how to do them right to avoid body pain. For example, with yoga, it?s essential to do the movements correctly to avoid injury and gain the most benefits.
- Join a Team ? If you enjoy team sports, it?s a great way to ensure that you get your exercise in. Between training, between seasons, and practicing during the season and playing the games, you?ll get in plenty of workouts. Plus, you?ll have a built-in social life too. And yes, there are team sports in all kinds of games for all ages in many areas. If there isn?t, you can organize one of your own.
Ensuring that you exercise and keep moving every single day is essential. You only need a brisk 20- to 30-minute walk Regularly at a minimum to maintain health. If you want to build muscle or lose weight through exercise, you may need to plan something more intense. The trick, though, is to mix it up and do different things each day to keep it fun and exciting.
It?s hard to overstress the importance of eating right and moving more. But, the really cool thing is that it doesn?t have to be super-strict to be effective. Again, just focus on doing the right thing 80 percent of the time, and you will be super-successful using diet and exercise to improve your mind and keep it sharp.