Recently I was doing some research online and I came across an article called the 6 Pillars of Brain Health.
It was a summary of the Cleveland Clinic’s Six Pillars Brain Health Program and it’s chock full of good advice.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you already know how proactive we are when it comes to keeping your brain young.
And I think their advice is good.
But before summarize their advice...
Let me tell you what the 6 Pillars are.
Pillar #1 - Physical Exercise
Pillar #2 - Food & Nutrition
Pillar #3 - Medical Health
Pillar #4 - Sleep & Relaxation
Pillar #5 - Mental Fitness
Pillar #6 – Social Interaction
These specific categories are virtually identical to a lot of the things we talk about here on my blog.
Let’s go through each pillar and I’ll give you my two cents on their advice.
Pillar #1 is Physical Exercise
This is one of my favorites and frankly they did a really good job with this one.
They start off this section talking about the importance of heart health and I couldn’t agree more.
And here’s why…
Anything that can improve your quality of life, increase blood flow, help you lose weight elevate your mood, improve your sleep, lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and strengthen your bones…
Can also help keep your brain healthy too.
In fact, studies show that aerobic exercise helps with new brain cell growth and the preservation of existing brain cells.
But those aren’t the only exercises that help stimulate your brain.
Strength training, flexibility exercises and balance work can all help protect and enhance your brain function.
Pillar #2 Food And Nutrition
Now as you know this is a pillar near and dear to my heart because it has such a big impact on your brain health.
In their recommendations, they suggest a Mediterranean diet which I think is pretty good advice.
For me the healthy fats, green leafy veggies and fish make this a great diet for just about anyone.
However, they do talk about limiting red meat and dairy, and in my experience this isn’t as necessary as they make it out to be.
I find that the healthy fats that come from these animal products can actually enhance brain function and I do recommend them to my patients.
However, I always suggest grass fed animals over grain fed animals as well as animals products free from antibiotics and hormones.
They also recommend dark chocolate, certain spices as well as a few key supplements like omega 3’s and vitamin D.
My only issue with this pillar is the lack of information on additional brain healing nutrients.
Pillar #3 Medical Health
Medical Health is something I think is all too often neglected.
You see, there are a variety of medical conditions that can put your brain health at risk.
Diabetes and hypertension are among the most concerning. And keeping these conditions medically under control is a good overall brain health strategy.
Pillar #4 Sleep & Relaxation
This is one of the most important when it comes to brain health.
During restful sleep, your brain detoxifies and rids itself of potentially dangerous toxins, including the beta amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s.
That’s why it’s so important to work on improving the quality of your sleep.
And one of the biggest factors interfering with sleep is stress. Managing stress is extremely important and stress reduction techniques like meditation are great ways to lower stress levels.
And another way to ensure that you get restful sleep ties directly into...
Pillar #5 Mental Fitness
Mental fitness can be achieved through a variety of mentally exercises, including learning new things, playing mental games and solving puzzles, painting, drawing or other forms of art.
Which finally brings us to...
Pillar #6 Social Interaction.
Social Interaction has a significant impact on brain health and quality of life.
That includes staying connected with others, getting involved in social activities and even having pets.
The feeling of being needed, appreciated and wanted can help keep you calm, boost your immunity, improve your heart health and improve your overall sense of well-being.
And it’s extremely good for your brain.
In fact, every single one of the 6 pillars provides a key element to protecting and enhancing brain function.
If you'd like to read more about the 6 Pillars program you can do that here.