15 Ways to Boost Your Brain Health in the New Year

Make 2017 the year you reboot your brain health, one simple move at a time.

December 21, 2016
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Let's face it: most of us start out the New Year with the best intentions and soon we are back to our old habits. Here are some quick ways to help you get your health on track in 2017:

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Eat a large green salad

Greens are full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and phytonutrients that give your brain a huge boost.  

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Drink more water

Water fuels every cell in our body. Insufficient water spells the breakdown of cellular process that are essential to brain health. 

More: 5 Naturally Flavored Water Recipes

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Eat two or three pieces or servings of fruit daily

Counting 1/2 cup of fruit like grapes, blueberries, cherries, etc. as a serving daily, add hearty pieces of fruit to your plate.  It's easy enough to choose fruit instead of a less-healthy dessert.  Red, blue, and purple-colored fruits are high in polyphenols that help protect the brain against free radical damage.

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Go for a brisk walk

Walking gets your heart pumping and improves circulation, which in turn helps to circulate oxygen-rich blood to your brain and boosting your mental powers.

More: 10 Tips for a Better Walking Workout

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Better yet, take your brisk walk in nature

Breathe in the rich oxygenated air from the trees and enjoy the peace and stress-release that nature offers.

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Drink a freshly made juice—preferably with green veggies

Ideally, dilute your juice 1:1 with pure water.  Fresh juices are an easy way to cleanse your body and give it a huge amount of nutrients. Some people spend a fortune on superfoods (which is fine if you have the money) but fresh juices also tend to be rich in antioxidants and other nutrients that are critical to brain health.

More: 6 Fruits & Veggies You Should Blend Right Now

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Think of at least 10 things for which you are grateful each day

Better yet, start a gratitude journal. Just the act of appreciating what you have can help you feel happier and better about your life.

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Hug someone you love (make sure it is someone who actually wants a hug)

A hug can release the brain hormone oxytocin, which leaves you with that warm, tingly feeling.

More: 4 Keys to a Rock-Solid Bond With Your Partner

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Soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts

The magnesium in Epsom salts is readily absorbed through your skin to relax your muscles and ease tension. Many experts estimate that about 80% of the population is magnesium deficient, which can cause brain health issues like migraines, insomnia, convulsions, or high blood pressure, which can be a precursor to stroke. A warm Epsom salt bath is a delightful way to boost your magnesium levels. Try to stay in the water for at least 20 minutes for maximum benefits.

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Meditate

The act of calming your mind can relax the nervous system, which tends to be in stress mode due to our high-stress, fast-paced lives.  This, in turn, reduces stress hormones that can have a damaging effect on the brain.

More: Beginner's Guide to Meditation Made Easy

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Deep breathe for at least 5 minutes, as often as you can

Research shows that breathing deeply can reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol that is released from the adrenal glands. Simply reducing this hormone can reduce anxiety and stress.

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Snack between meals on healthy snacks

Opt for snacks like almonds, veggie crudité, hummus and whole grain pitas. Snacking every few hours helps keep blood sugar levels stable, which is critical to give your brain an ongoing supply of energy.

More: 13 Tasty Diabetes-Friendly Snacks

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Ditch the common toxins

Eliminate at least one item from your life that contains brain-damaging toxic chemicals (dryer sheets, most types of commercial laundry soap, dish soap, "air fresheners," etc.). Choose a natural option from your health food store instead.

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Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables

Vegetables are packed with brain-building nutrients like B-vitamins that are needed for concentration and energy. We know we should eat our vegetables but it's difficult to remember sometimes. Add mashed sweet potatoes as a side dish, or sauté some greens with freshly chopped garlic and toss with a little fresh lemon juice and sea salt. Even people who don't like greens tend to love this way of preparing them.

More: 5 Expert Tips for Eating More Veggies at Every Meal

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Get your indoor workouts started

Dust off that piece of exercise equipment you've owned for years and put it in front of your television. If you're watching TV, exercise on the commercials. No equipment? Do pushups, sit-ups, crunches, or other exercises on the commercials. It's easy and it adds up. The regular exercise helps reduce your risk of stroke, while also giving your brain a boost of oxygen-rich blood.

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