We all know that alcohol does horrible things to your liver, but scientists are just beginning to discover that those wild drinking sprees with the guys can also do long-term damage to your memory. In fact, there are a lot of lifestyle habits that will affect how sharp you’ll be when you’re 60 years old. Here are some of the things you can do to keep your brain healthy and strong.
A study looked at the habits of 5,000 men and women over 20 years. They were given tests in their mid 40s, mid 50s, and early 60s to see if their diet and lifestyle had any real impact on their brain health.
The study found that certain behaviors did affect their scores on memory and brain functioning tests. These were tobacco use, alcohol use, exercise and physical activity levels, and the amount of fruit and vegetables in their diet.
Smoking, not surprisingly, dragged down brain performance tests, because it reduces the amount of oxygen in the brain. Plus, a hardcore smoker has problems concentrating if he gets nicotine withdrawal, which can pose a problem if you’re taking a memory test in a non-smoking facility).
As for alcohol, taking moderate amounts of alcohol can actually improve memory functioning. But ‘moderate’ means 5 to 14 units a week, with each unit corresponding to a glass of wine, a pint of wine, or an ounce of liquor). This infographic on wine can help you decide what to enjoy with your next meal.
Fruits and vegetables are as good for your brain as they are for the rest of your body. And it might be worth paying a bit more for organically grown produce, since the pesticides tend to reduce the nutrient content.
As for exercise, you can’t use the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse. The study found that even just a total of two and a half hours of aerobic exercise in one week (even when broken down into 10 minute increments) can boost your brain power. Try brisk walking or dancing (Zumba is a fun choice) or even just getting a hobby that involves moving around, like gardening.
Photo from how2improvethememory.com