Guide to Brain Health

Healthy Brain guideNormally when we hear the expression “exercise your mind” we think of it as a lecture to use our brains. But it’s actually excellent advice. Regardless of your age, keeping your mind active is the best way to maintain your brain health. It’ll ensure healthy brain development during childhood, normal cognitive function throughout life and prevent cognitive decline as you age.

Pregnancy and Infancy

  • During pregnancy, make sure you eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of “brain food” for your growing baby. That includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and other foods containing lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, beta-carotene and other important vitamins and minerals It’s also important to consume two to three servings of fatty fish per week or to take a fish oil supplement. Throw some olive oil or nuts into your salad for vitamin E. And don’t forget your prenatal vitamin with folic acid!
  • Breastfeed so you make sure that your child continues to get adequate lutein, DHA and other important nutrients while they’re brains are growing
  • Once your child is eating solid foods, introduce them to fruits and vegetables through pureed baby food and continue those good habits as they start to choose foods for themselves
  • Let play – especially imaginative play – be an important part of your baby's life
  • Stimulate your baby by talking, singing and playing music
  • Read to and with your child

Childhood

  • Challenge your child by introducing them to new things but give him or her the freedom to pursue his or her own interests
  • Continue to provide a healthy diet with brain power. It’s particularly important to encourage fruits and vegetables, fish and healthy oils.
  • Schedule regular check-ups with your pediatrician
  • Make sure your child’s head is protected with a helmet while biking, skiing, or doing similar activities
  • Stay connected with your child’s teachers and caretakers who may have unique insight into their social and developmental behaviors

 Adolescence

  • As teenagers start to get more independent, they put themselves at greater risk for head injury. Make sure they continue to wear a helmet when bicycling, skateboarding, skiing or participating in contact sports
  • Make sure your adolescent gets at least 8 hours of sleep each night
  • This is the age when your kids start to get more independent about their food choices. Continue to encourage them to eat a healthy balanced diet full of dark green leafy and colorful fruits and vegetables, fish and lean protein, or supplement with lutein and zeaxanthin and Omega-3 fish oil
  • Encourage your teen to take a multivitamin on a daily basis

Help your teen avoid drugs and alcohol. The adolescent brain is more susceptible to the negative effects of drug and alcohol use

Adulthood

  • You’re never too old to learn. Continue to stimulate your brain by reading and experiencing new things
  • Continue to eat a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables and omega-3-rich fatty fish
  • Exercise regularly
  • Make sure you get eight hours of sleep every night

 Aging

  • With age, the expression “use it or lose it” often applies. Make sure you keep your mind active by reading and playing brain games like Sudoku or crossword puzzles
  • Go back to school! Many universities offer adult education classes that will keep your mind sharp
  • Challenge your brain with something new that you have never done before. Try learning a different language or to play a new musical instrument
  • Continue to eat a healthy diet loaded with fruits and vegetables and exercise
  • Don’t forget your multivitamin, lutein and zeaxanthin supplement and Omega-3 fish oil
  • Maintain social contact