Aegis Living Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shirley Newell, a national leader in the assisted-living industry, discusses what you can do to optimize brain health. In some cases, it can be as simple as getting a good night’s sleep.
The positive things you can do for your brain are from a young age, and especially as you get older, get plenty of exercise. Also, eat a very healthy diet. And the cardiologists, and now the neurologists, talk about the Mediterranean diet, which isn’t that complicated. It’s just a lot of fruits and vegetables, moderate carbohydrates, low protein, and very healthy vegetable oils like olive oil, non-saturated fats, are very important to minimize sugar.
It’s clear that human beings need at least seven or eight hours a night of sleep. You may function, or think you function, well on less, some people chronically function on much less. But they’re doing damage to their brain because sleep, and especially dreaming, is really important to restore brain function. A lot of chemical events happen during sleep that are critical, not only to preserve health, but that can be harmful if you don’t get enough sleep, in terms of developing dementia and other degenerative diseases of the brain.
Really important for brain health would be not only sleep, but meditation. Meditation and mindfulness have been found to be very restorative in terms of brain function and focus, and highly valuable in terms of helping people overcome distraction. Both of those are very, very important to people and that’s something that you can do without a lot of effort or time.