Dr. Sanjay Gupta describes the ultimate goal is to build what’s called cognitive reserve, which is what scientists call “brain resiliency.” With more cognitive reserve, you support cognitive function and can lower your risk of neurodegenerative issues. It’s like having a backup set of networks in your brain when one fails or, worse, dies and is no longer functional. In many aspects of life, the more backup plans we have, the more chances for success, right? Well, the same is true for our brain’s hard- and soft-wiring. And perhaps the most important key to establishing that reserve is to do so over time – years or even decades – before your risk for decline increases with advanced age.

Always remember this: Cognitive decline is not necessarily inevitable. Research suggests healthy habits you can incorporate into your daily life can help protect your brain health for the long term. Think of health as a “top-down” project. Focus on your brain and everything else will follow. Happy New Year!

There are 5 main pillars to brain power plus a few more

You’ve got to move it move it move it  Your body that is….

Exercise is the single most important thing anyone can do to improve brain function and resiliency to disease. Exercise also helps lower inflammation and that is critical in preventing dementia, while it stimulates the the release of growth factors and production of cells including brain cells.  Studies have shown that 11 minutes a day can increase your life span while the recommended amount is 150 minutes /week That’s roughly 21 minutes/day. It doesn’t have to be consecutive . Take a break from what you are doing with a 10-12 minute walk twice  a day,

Learn something new; solve a problem, use reasoning.  Learn a hobby,  prepare recipes, try a new language. join a book club, share ideas.

Sleep perchance to dream

Sleep is like restarting your computer.  Ideally get 7 hours of solid sleep per night. Having trouble  getting to sleep learn meditation or deep breathing. Create a sleep inducing bedroom.

Eliminate stress by taking breaks to reduce the cortisol that causes high levels of inflammation. Naps for 20-30 minutes can make a huge difference.  Churchill, JFK and many CEOs know the power of this along with meditation

Fuel your brain

Like your car, your brain needs the right fuel to keep it running smoothly.    There are many studies of different diets that can  have positive or negative health implications. A May study published in Neurology found the Mediterranean diet, for example, may limit your risk for dementia.  This way of eating limits processed foods and red meats in favor of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and extra-virgin olive oil. You need to find a sensible way to eat that you can maintain.  Does this mean giving up sweets or chips? No, it means being smart and eating non healthy foods sparingly. For brain health, incorporate fatty fish like salmon or mackerel into your eating routine. if you don’t like that try other ways to get omega -3,

Reduce sugar. many well-designed studies have found that people with high blood sugar had a faster rate of cognitive decline than those with normal blood sugar.

Think about what you are putting in your body and make good choices

Be with others

Over the years, numerous studies have shown that strong social relationships contribute to healthier and happier lives. But, when it comes to brain health, recent research has shown those relationships also enhance neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change, enhance and preserve its cognitive abilities.

Join others that share interests.  Want to stretch your mind and move; learn dance, yoga, or other group exercise.  Join a book club  Take knitting or crocheting lessons  Just get out of the house and away from the TV, and phone

Those are the 5 pillars but there are more ideas to improving your memory

  1. Chunking:
    • Break information into smaller chunks to make it easier to remember. This technique is particularly useful for remembering long lists or numbers.
  2. Visualization:
    • Create mental images to represent information. This can make it easier to recall details.
  3. Association:
    • Associate new information with something you already know. This helps create connections in your brain, making it easier to retrieve the information.
  4. Repetition and Practice:
    • Repeat information you want to remember and quiz yourself periodically. Practice helps reinforce memory. When you meet someone say their name out loud and repeat it
  5. Sleep on It:
    • Take short breaks during learning sessions and allow time for your brain to process and consolidate information, especially before sleep.
  6. Mindfulness and Meditation:
    • These practices can improve focus and concentration, leading to better memory.
  7. Get Organized:
    • Use tools like calendars, planners, and to-do lists to organize your tasks and information. This reduces cognitive load.
  8. Limit Multitasking:
    • Focus on one task at a time. Multitasking can be detrimental to memory and overall cognitive function.
  9. Use Mnemonics:
    • Create mnemonic devices or memory aids to help remember information. This could involve creating acronyms, rhymes, or associations.
  10. Teach Others:
    • Teaching someone else what you’ve learned can reinforce your own understanding and memory.
  11. Get Enough Vitamin D:
    • Adequate levels of vitamin D are important for cognitive function, and a deficiency may impact memory.

Make this year the time to improve your brain and your memory. Pick a few ideas to start and gradually increase. Tell friends and family what you are doing and have them join you.