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Five ways to keep your brain sharp

A man expresses fatigue after a day's work. [Getty Images]

You probably know an old person who is as mentally sharp as anyone despite being in their 80s or 90s. You might also know a much younger person who cannot recall events and whose memory has taken a nosedive. Sometimes it is not the genes, but our lifestyles, that cause this difference, but there are some things you can do to give yourself a better chance at keeping your mind agile. 

Eat brain food: Scientists have observed that neurons in the brain seem to need docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to function normally. DHA is one of the Omega 3 fatty acids, which are mostly found in fish. They are also found in eggs and seeds like chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Other foods like blueberries are also rich in gallic acid, which helps prevent degeneration and stress. Avocadoes are also rich in antioxidants, especially Vitamins E and C, that help prevent blood clots in the brain, thus helping to prevent stroke and improve brain function.

Engage your brain more: Mobile phones have been getting a bad rap for getting people addicted to them, but you can turn phone use into a brain-building advantage. There are free brain-training apps on Google Play like Elevate. You can also play games like Sudoku and Crosswords to keep your brain active. Reading, one of the oldest forms of brain improvement, can be done through e-books on your phone.

Walk: Until the advent of boda bodas, we were a walking nation, but that convenience has largely taken that very healthy habit away. However, it may be a good idea to resume walking more. Researchers at New Mexico Highlands University found that the foot’s impact during walking sends pressure waves through the arteries that significantly modify and can increase the supply of blood to the brain. Consider walking at least 30 minutes every day.

Learn to play an instrument: A 2014 study in Liverpool showed that blood flow to the brain could increase after just half an hour of simple musical training. In addition, it was discovered that learning an instrument could also help patients recover from brain injury. Twenty stroke patients were taken through just three weeks of musical training, and researchers reported that patients showed significant improvement after treatment concerning speed, precision and smoothness of movements. Motor control in everyday activities improved significantly. Playing an instrument also reduces stress and depression.

Give electronic devices a break: Television should only be used as a means of entertainment once in a while. Engage in mind-stimulating games like chess and scrabble. Having a good night’s sleep is also important for the brain, so you need to turn off your phone and other devices one hour before bed. The light from the devices disrupts the natural sleep-wake cycle that is important for a good night’s sleep.