At any age we can challenge our brains to grow new cells, build new connections and enhance our problem-solving abilities and memory function. The more you use your brain, the bigger it gets and the better it works.
OASIS is one strategy to stimulate brain activity and growth. An article published by SUNY Upstate Medical University connects the OASIS model of lifelong learning, wellness and civic engagement to improved brain health.
There is much we can do to nourish our brains. According to Marian Diamond, PhD, professor of human neuroanatomy at the University of California - Berkeley, a healthy diet, regular exercise and mental challenge are all essential for brain health.
Foods to Nourish Your Brain
A well-balanced diet provides the building blocks for brain health and growth. Foods that are especially good for your brain:
- Fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants to help maintain balance, coordination and memory function. Blueberries and strawberries are especially good sources!
- Proteins maintain nerve cell structure.
- Calcium is not just important for bone structure, its also needed for nerve impulse conduction and muscle contraction.
- Soy products provide choline, a nutrient that builds neurotransmitters that pass electrical impulses between brain cells. Egg yolks, peanuts and liver are more good sources of choline.
- Water makes up 85 percent of your brain weight. Lack of water leads to dehydration, making it hard to concentrate among other bad effects. Keep a glass or bottle of water handy so you can get your eight glasses a day.
A regular exercise program boosts your circulation, bringing oxygen to the brain. A University of California study of nearly 6,000 women age 65 and up showed that those who did the most walking every week were least likely to show signs of cognitive decline.
Make physical activity a part of your everyday life. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day. Do things you enjoy. Go for a brisk walk or a bike ride. Yardwork, dancing, tennis, swimming, climbing stairs - any sustained activity helps. You'll feel better and enjoy life more!
Challenge Your Mind
If you continue to learn and challenge yourself, your brain continues to grow, literally. An active brain produces new dendrites, which are the connections between nerve cells that allow cells to communicate with one another. This helps the brain store and retrieve information more easily.
Some ideas for activities to keep your mind sharp and agile:
- Read. Even better, join a book club and compare your thoughts with other readers.
- Get creative. If you haven't fully explored your artistic side, try your hand at drawing, painting or photography.
- Take a class. If you live near an OASIS city you can take try out classes in everything from creative writing and cooking to foreign languages and geopolitics. Or, look around your community for adult education programs and classes.
- Play some new games. computer games, puzzles, crosswords, riddles, chess and other board games are all great for sparking brain activity. The key is to keep trying something new. If you've been a crossword puzzle fan - try a different kind of puzzle or something more complicated to keep your brain challenged.
- Learn about technology. There are always new things to learn about computers and new ways to use them.
- Make music. Learn to play a musical instrument, or listen to a music from a genre you haven't explored, like jazz, roots or blues music.
Resources for more information:
Back to Health Topics >