Head Strong


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It was once believed that the neurons—commonly known as brain cells—we had at birth were the ones we got for our entire lives. But more recent findings suggest that, yes, we can and do create new brain cells as we age. If we pay attention to how this happens and the activities that best support the production of new brain cells, we may be able to stay sharp as we age and perhaps prevent or delay dementia in our later years. It is good news to know that the health of our brains doesn’t depend on just genetics or childhood experiences but can also be influenced by the choices we make later in life.

While the brain is pretty complicated, the ways we can keep it healthy are pretty simple.

Get moving 

Just like our bodies, our brain also needs aerobic exercise: getting your blood pumping to your brain during exercise can help support the production of new neurons.

“Like muscle fibers breaking down and rebuilding to create stronger muscles, our neurons break down, then recover and become stronger and more resilient,” says Cathy Spencer-Browning, a human movement expert. “Yes, our brain’s anatomy can change when we exercise.”

Learn new things

Experts agree that the best way to maintain the brain’s plasticity is to learn something new. Every single day. It doesn’t matter what it is—whether learning to play a new musical instrument or how to use a new app on your phone—but it does matter that it is new, because it is about the learning <process>, not the product. It boils down to the cliché, says Dr. Bryan Bruno, Medical Director at a New York-based medical center: “Use it or lose it.”

Feed the brain 

Diet also plays a big role in maintaining your brain health. Many experts consider a Mediterranean diet, high in whole plant foods and occasional seafood, to be a brain-friendly approach. Look for foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can boost memory: salmon, walnuts, and leafy greens are among the smart (pun intended) ingredients. Foods high in antioxidants—again, leafy greens, plus berries and dark chocolate—can reduce inflammation and slow brain aging.

Reduce stress 

Cortisol, produced by adrenal glands, is our body’s stress hormone that may influence both memory and cognitive function. Research published in 2020 found that chronic stress can result in a loss of brain synapses related to changes in plasticity.

Brain-boosting supplements 



lemon balm

may increase cognitive function


may increase blood flow to the brain

gotu kola

improves cognitive function among stroke patients


may reduce cortisol and improve memory


acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant




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