With mounting medical evidence pointing to the integral relationship between physical and mental health, medical experts are now promoting the importance of mental fitness. “Many of the things that we now know to be associated with heart health and general fitness are also associated with keeping the brain healthy,” Michael Kabat, PhD, neuropsychologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California, told The San Diego Union-Tribune (June 28, 2010). The following expert tips on how to optimize brain health are courtesy of Kabat; Ipsit Vahia, MD, psychiatrist at the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California San Diego Medical Center; and Geoff Twitchell, PhD, lead clinical psychologist in the Senior Intensive Outpatient Program, Sharp Grossmont Hospital, La Mesa, California:
- Socialization. Cultivate friendships for social support, mental stimulation and improved mood.
- Physical Exercise. Do aerobic exercises consistently to stimulate circulation to the brain, to manage weight and to avoid fat deposits in the brain.
- Diet. Eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes an abundance of dark-skinned fruits, vegetables and cold-water fish.
- Mental Stimulation. Continue to challenge your mind by learning new skills, as this may stimulate the brain to generate new brain cells.
- Stress Management. Prevent chronic stress, anxiety or depression by participating regularly in relaxation activities, such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation or prayer. Calming the mind and body wards off excess stress biochemicals that can negatively impact memory and mood.