Use Your Head: Help keep your brain healthy at any age

As you read this, your brain is working to absorb the material. The most complex organ in the body, the brain controls our actions and reactions, thoughts and feelings, and our ability to process information and store memories. Brain health is a hot topic—and for good reasons.

With life expectancy increasing globally, experts expect a rise in the incidence of cognitive impairment and dementia. But brain health isn’t just about preventing those age-related problems; it’s important for optimal cognitive functioning at any age. Here are 6 things to know and do:

1. Get regular exercise, which promotes healthy brain cells, aids the growth of new brain cells, and protects against neurodegenerative disease and cognitive decline.

2. Try a Mediterranean-style diet, which helps support brain health and may reduce Alzheimer’s risk. 3. Keep learning new and cognitively challenging skills, which can help improve memory function.

4. Reduce your exposure to air pollution, since exposure to some types of pollutants has been shown to have negative short- and long-term effects on cognitive performance.

5. Get the sleep your brain needs, which may help with consolidating and storing memories, and with protecting you from proteins that have been linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

6. Manage stress, since high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can impair proper brain function.