Health problems that hurt your brain power (and what you can do to stay sharp)

Posted at 5:41 PM, Sep 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-22 17:41:23-04

As we get older it’s important to stay on top of our health, and this includes our brain.  But there are certain health issues that can affect your cognitive abilities.  

A study looking for links between high blood pressure and mental performance found a connection – it aged the brain by 2.7 years.  

Hearing loss can also affect your mental health.  When compared to people with normal hearing, researchers found a 30 to 40 percent increased risk of cognitive decline in those who suffered with hearing loss.  

And are you one to skimp on sleep? Not enough time dozing at night can affect your thinking.  

One sleep study found older people did poorly on cognitive tests when they got less than 6 hours of sleep.  

And if you’re overweight, you should be concerned as well. A 2012 study over 10 years found obese participants had a 22 percent decline on testing when compared with those closer to their ideal weight.  

And if you don’t spend enough time in the sun, you may be low on Vitamin D. Research discovered low levels of Vitamin D in people were linked to a 60% more chance of suffering from cognitive decline.

To help support brain health here are my prescriptions:

  1. Protect your hearing.  Noisy situations can kill the hair cells and nerve endings in your ear so wear ear buds or protectors when necessary.
  2. Eat a well-balanced diet.  You don’t have to give up your favorite comfort foods but do eat them less often.  
  3. Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.  Create an ideal dark environment with a cool temperature.
  4. Get enough sun or take a Vitamin D supplement.  You can also eat foods containing this vitamin like milk, eggs, and salmon.

 It’s also important to watch your blood pressure and take steps to reduce it if it’s high.

Having a good social network, engaging in regular physical activities and managing heart risk factors can all help your brain to stay healthy while reducing your risk of mental decline.