A Neuroscientist Says to Do This One Thing Daily for a Healthy Brain

Health and wellness have a much broader definition than they did in the past. Nowadays, it goes beyond the simple topics of diet and exercise to incorporate all realms of physical, mental, and emotional well-being. In other words, running a seven-minute mile is great, but we're aiming to reach other goals ahead of that-namely, feeling an internal sense ofВ wellness and balance. To us, a big part of that is brain health. We want to know that we're doing everythingВ in our power to support the speed, accuracy, and longevity of our cognitive function. BecauseВ however sad it may be, the truth is that our brain ages along with the rest of our bodies.В

The good news is this: Staving off cognitive declineВ isВ easier than you think. And no, it doesn't involve intricate brain games or puzzles. That's according to Jessica Langbaum, a specialist in Alzheimer's prevention who just opened up toВ NPR about the steps you can take to keep your brain in tip-top shape.

Keep scrolling to see the easy (and totally free) secret to maintaining a healthy brain.В


Since Langbaum is an Alzheimer's specialist, and someone who has a doctorate inВ psychiatric epidemiology, she knows all about brain function and maintenance. You might be surprised to hear that she has no specialized "brain-training" routine. Normal brain games may not work in halting the onset of Alzheimer's, she says, because they focus on too narrow of a task. It's only targeting a small portion of your brain's functioning. "Just sitting down and doing sudoku isn't probably going to be the one key thing that's going to prevent you from developing Alzheimer's disease," she says. It's only the more complex brain training, used in various research studies, that may make a difference. "They delay the onset of cognitive impairment," she says. "They keep your brain working at the same level longer, compared to people who did not receive those same cognitive training interventions."


So essentially, brain games and so-called training won't hurt, but they might not affect the onset of a disease like Alzheimer's. What will help, however, is social interaction (yes, really). "People who have a lot of social interactions, particularly in mid-life, have a lower risk of Alzheimer's dementia in later life," Langbaum says. "There's something about being around people that is helpful for our brains."В

One study, in particular, found that the greater someone's self-reported loneliness is, the higher their risk for dementia is. Scary, right? Luckily, the cure for loneliness and social isolation is pretty simple: Surround yourself with more people. Whether that means joining a new book club, grabbing a drink with a co-worker, or visiting a friend, being social could prevent cognitive decline, and we'll most definitely make some weeknight plans to that.В Going out is easier said than done, especially if you have social anxiety. That being said, even spending a little bit of time in an environment with people can be beneficial.

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Next, read up onВ the best foods to promote brain health. (Spoiler alert: Coffee and avocado make the list.)