Exercise benefits the brainVera Verano Photo/Shutterstock
Many studies illustrate the ways exercise makes your brain better. “Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia in adults age 65 and older—however, at every age, exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function,” says NJ-based fitness expert and dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies. “Exercise prior to learning a task was shown to result in increased memory and concentration.” This appears to be linked to an increase in circulation bringing oxygen and nutrients to the brain, while also helping to remove waste, she says. Learn the best time of day to work out if you want to improve your memory.
The Mediterranean diet does a brain goodTimolina/Shutterstock
Nutrition as well as exercise impacts how our brain functions. The Mediterranean diet—rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and fish—was shown in a recent study to preserve more brain volume in older adults than those who didn’t follow the diet protocol. “Although more research needs to be done to determine exactly how this diet protects the brain, it is possible that the benefits such a diet has on reducing inflammation and improving vascular health may be the reason for the brain health benefits,” Palinski-Wade says. Check out these other 25 brain-boosting foods that keep you sharp.
Olive oil may help preserve memoryElena Veselova/Shutterstock
OIive oil is also an important part of the Mediterranean diet, and more new research has shown how that specific ingredient may boost the brain’s memory powers. (Here’s how olive oil staves off Alzheimer’s.) “A recent study found that compounds in extra-virgin olive oil may reduce brain inflammation as well as activate a process in which cells break down and remove debris and toxins,” Palinski-Wade says. “This process fights against the buildup of plaque and neurofibrillary tangles, which are suspected to contribute to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.” She recommends replacing animal-based fats with monounsaturated fat, like olive oil, to provide another layer of protection for brain health.