5 Unexpected Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp as You Age

As we age the outward signs can be painfully apparent. Graying hair, wrinkles in the skin, joints that ache on cold days – but there is a lot more aging that goes on inside without us even knowing it.

Since we haven’t yet figured out how to make immortality a reality, the best we can do is keep our bodies as healthy as possible. And there’s no part more important to protect than the control center. That’s right, the brain. The brain ages just like everything else, but it does so in unique ways. Unlike our waistlines, the brain shrinks as we age.

Everyone will experience cognitive decline to some extent. The good news is plenty of research has gone into studying how the brain ages and what we can do to slow down the process. Scientific endeavors have uncovered some not so surprising ways to protect the brain – like eating a healthy diet. But some of the other suggestions are a little more off-the-wall. If you’re interested in what those less obvious suggestions are, keep reading to have your mind blown.

Gamble More

Upon first glance it may seem like the suggestion of gambling for mental sharpness is a study right off the Las Vegas Strip. But it turns out there is a lot of good science and sense behind the idea that gambling helps to stave off mental decline. Just like our muscles, when we don’t use parts of our brain they get weaker. Gambling requires a lot of concentration, calculations and memory. Most cards games like poker and black jack make your brain work. These games are also highly social, and socialization is another factor that has been shown to help keep the brain sharp.

So, get a few insider tips to gambling, find a game that you like and play for free online if you don’t want to risk your financial well-being for your brain health.

Breath Less

Did you know there’s such a thing as chronic overbreathing? New research has found that some people breathe too much, which can make them expel too much carbon dioxide. On the other hand controlled breathing through meditation has been found to increase brain size in areas that influence attention and sensory input processing. Even better – the improvements are most noticeable in older people.

Drink Coffee More

The debate over how healthy coffee is seems to volley back and forth. But when it comes to your brain health doctors say to go ahead and fill up your cup. It turns out coffee doesn’t just get your brain buzzing in the morning. It can have long-term effects that improve thinking skills. The caffeine in coffee allows excitatory brain chemicals to be released. These chemicals improve mental performance and slow mental decline. Just steer clear of all the unhealthy additives.

Eat Less

Fasting for a day isn’t easy on your stomach, but it is highly beneficial for the brain. Researchers at the National Institute on Aging say that fasting once or twice a week can greatly reduce our chances of getting Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Reducing energy intake, a.k.a. calories, will slow down the progression of aging in the brain. When you eat less than 500 calories in a day your neurons are more active and messaging chemicals that are critical for brain cell growth get stimulated. The short-term stress of hunger leads to the creation of new brain cells and neuron growth. If you want to bulk up your brain eating less will do the trick.

Drink Moderate Amounts of Alcohol

This truly is an instance where everything in moderation applies. Surprisingly, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol has been shown to have positive impacts on the brains of older people. Long story short, studies have found that moderate alcohol consumption in people over 60 can improve episodic memory and increase the size of the hippocampus.

There you have it. Five health brain habits you probably never thought to try!