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How to help your brain as you age

Here are some tips for staying mentally fit:

Get plenty of exercise. Regular exercise can counter effects of aging on the brain.

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Get adequate sleep. Poor quality or too little sleep can cause fuzzy thinking.

Avoid cigarettes. Smoking can damage the heart and affect blood flow to the brain.

Don't overdo alcohol. Drinking can affect memory.

Eat colorful produce. Chemicals called flavonoids, which give fruits and vegetables their color, have been associated with improved brain function.

Keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control.

Get organized. Take notes, repeat names, and pay attention to important information.

Don't panic. A little forgetfulness in middle age is not a sign that you will develop Alzheimer's.

Calm down. Stress can impair brain function. Yoga, meditation, and other calming activities can help.

Check medications. Some medicines for depression, anxiety, blood pressure, and heart disease can affect memory; most of these have alternatives that don't.

Take care of mental health. Treatment for depression, severe grief, and other mood disorders can restore memory.

Minimize multitasking. Midlife may be a good moment to admit that you can't really do more than one thing at a time.

K.W.

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