The maintenance of an active and young brain also passes through lifestyle and small daily gestures. Professor Michela Matteoli, Head of Humanitas Neuro Center, Director of the Institute of Neuroscience at CNR and lecturer at Humanitas University, spoke about it in an interview on D-La Repubblica.

Protecting your hearing, keeping your brain in good shape, eating well, sleeping well enough, being physically active and taking care of your social and non-smoking behavior are some of Professor Matteoli’s tips.


Safeguarding hearing

According to several studies, those with hearing problems would have a 30-40% higher risk of accelerating cognitive decline. “Investigations have not yet fully clarified the neurophysiological bases that link hearing problems to the decay of brain function, but it is certain that protecting the ears from excessive noise is a virtuous choice for the brain,” said Professor Matteoli.

Therefore, do not use your music devices for more than two hours at a time by adjusting the earphones to low-medium volumes (below 40 decibels).


Train your mind

Training the mind promotes cognitive abilities and helps prevent dementia because it increases the connections between neurons.

“Carrying out new tasks stimulates an increase in brain activity in different areas, in contrast to more routine daily tasks,” the specialist explains. For example, it is advisable to brush the teeth with the non-dominant hand, carry out small tasks with the eyes closed (provided that they are safe), “using touch instead of sight to identify objects stimulates the cortical areas that process tactile information and strengthen synapses”. The go-ahead is given to creative activities, including cooking: “Cooking is a global exercise for the brain because it acts on all five senses. Trying different recipes, encroaching on the exotic and using unknown ingredients, paves the way for new circuits and improves attention,” suggests Professor Matteoli.


Eat in a balanced way

As well as providing the body with good hydration, which helps improve brain performance, it is important to ensure a healthy and balanced diet. There are many studies that deal with nutrition and good brain function.

The Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, for example, argues that the Mind Diet significantly reduces the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Professor Matteoli explains the basic principles: “Eating whole grains three times a day and lots of broad-leaved vegetables, source of vitamin C and other neuroprotective substances, as well as small amount of nuts and pumpkin seeds, rich in essential fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6 and minerals such as zinc and magnesium, is important for brain biochemistry and storage processes.


Fight insomnia and say no to smoking

Insomnia, smoking, smog, loneliness and sedentariness are enemies of brain health.

“Sleep deprivation not only causes disturbances in circadian rhythms and melatonin, but also increases concentrations of beta-amyloid, the protein underlying the destructive processes of Alzheimer’s disease. It also causes depression, a condition that compromises cognitive functions, triggering a vicious circle,” explains the specialist. It is therefore advisable not to dine too late and eliminate caffeine, avoid evening discussions and do not watch computer screens and mobile phones before sleeping.

Stopping smoking is also a good idea: smoking “reduces the supply of oxygen to the brain, favoring neurodegenerative diseases”.

Poor social life is also conducive to cognitive decay, and particular attention should be paid to older people: “Older people have changes in beta-amyloid, the protein of Alzheimer’s,” said the professor.

It is important to keep physically active by exercising regularly.