5 Ways to Boost Your Brain Health as You Age

The world is aging.

According to the United Nations “World Population Ageing Report” in 2017, virtually every country in the world will see a substantial increase in the size of the elderly population. The report says there are 962 million people over the age of 60 and this size is projected to double by the year 2050.

Age is but a number

While the global numbers of aging people may not prove relevant to most, it still gives people a general picture of what lies ahead. Aging is an undeniable fact of life. And while age may just be a number to some, others view it as a ticking clock that keeps track of their remaining time on earth.

Though most would welcome the wisdom that comes with age, some people who are advancing in years have reservations as to how the passage of time will affect them. Specifically, anxieties about the cognitive and behavioral changes of an aging mind and body filter into their thoughts by the minute.

Gray matters

The issue about brain aging is something that concerns a lot of people. With aging comes the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases that may start with minor function loss to major life disruptions. Fortunately, a lot of studies and research have been and continue to be conducted to prevent and, at some point, delay the effects of brain aging.

These studies include different ways to promote brain health. Like the muscles in the body, you also need to exercise your brain by engaging in activities that stimulate it and keep it working, as it should.

Here are some tips on how to boost brain health as you age:

1. Choose a healthy diet

According to a study published in Neurology, an American Academy of Neurology Journal, adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet can potentially prevent brain atrophy (and protect brain volume) among relatively healthy adults aged 65 years and older.

The Mediterranean-type of diet consists mainly of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, olive oil, seeds, seeds and whole grains. Moderate consumption of fish, dairy and wine may also be incorporated into it. However, it is suggested that only minimal amounts of red meat, poultry and processed food should be ingested.

Vegetables, especially leafy greens, may play a part in promoting general brain health as it contains nutrients like beta-carotene, folate, lutein and phylloquinone. This discovery is a product of a research conducted by scientists at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago where they monitored the diet of 960 elderly people.

2. Get physical

Doing exercises and physical training can help improve memory and thinking ability.

A study on the effects of exercise and cognitive training on memory published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience shows that six weeks of high-intensity training performed for 20 minutes gave rise to improvements in high-interference memory.

Another research published in Neuropsychologia found that 10-minute bursts of aerobic exercise could boost brain zones responsible for focus, decision-making and problem solving.

If dynamic workouts are not your style, don’t worry. Scientific evidence also points to yoga as another way to protect your brain during old age.

As what Elisa Kosaza, a researcher in the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in São Paolo, Brazil shared, the brain develops through training in the same way as muscles do. Yoga is a contemplative practice that has a cognitive component that promotes concentration and attention. These conscious efforts to maintain postures and perform breathing and meditative exercises are correlated to preventing cognitive decline.

3. Train your cognitive abilities

Improving your cognitive health can be done by engaging in brainteasers such as games like chess, checkers or Scrabble.

Alternatively, certain computer training may also lower the risk for dementia as found in the results from the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) Study where 2,802 older adults participated in. The control group who received personalized computerized speed of processing training displayed a 29 percent reduction in dementia risk.

It doesn’t have to take word or number games alone to improve your cognitive abilities though. Walking around the neighborhood, taking in the sights, and interacting with other people can also stimulate your brain.

4. Learn a new language

Aside from brain training, learning a new language or dialect can help ignite brain function and enhance cognitive abilities.

Research suggests that bilingual abilities are good for the executive function of people’s brains as well as in reducing the effects of aging.

In a study of bilingualism and its consequences on the mind and brain led by one of the world’s premier bilingual researchers Ellen Bialystok, speaking multiple languages plays a larger role in older adults by protecting them from cognitive decline. Symptoms of dementia have also been shown to slow down with bilingualism.

5. Take pterostilbene supplements

Pterostilbene, a polyphenolic compound found in blueberries and red grapes, has been found to have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic qualities that can help improve brain health.

Preserving cognitive and neural function during the aging years is among the many benefits of pterostilbene. In a study conducted by Poulose, S.M., et al., on the effects of pterostilbene and resveratrol on brain and behavior published in Neurochemistry International (2015), major signaling pathways that guard the brain against inflammation and oxidative stress can be directly and indirectly activated by pterostilbene.

Generally regarded as safe, pterostilbene can be used in a myriad of forms such as tablets, capsules, melts, or in powder form when used for dietary supplements, and must not exceed a cumulative intake of 1890 mg per day.

Growing older must also mean growing wiser especially when it comes to taking care of one’s mind and body. Taking careful steps and making a conscious effort to improve brain health can help in delaying the onset of degenerative diseases as well as improve cognitive abilities.

The abovementioned ways on how to keep your brain healthy can definitely go a long way in ensuring your well-being. As they say, having a healthy mind equates to a happy life.


Frank L. Jaksch Jr. is the Chief Executive Officer and a co-founder of ChromaDex. He oversees research, strategy and operations for the Company with a focus on scientific and novel products for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical markets. Mr. Jaksch earned a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology from Valparaiso University.