Keep your brain young with simple lifestyle changes

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(CNN) Misplacing your keys more often? Less focused at work? The key to staying smart as you age may be easier than you think.

You may be getting older but don’t fret.  You can help keep your brain young with some simple lifestyle changes such as moderate amount of exercises, eating well and managing your stress.  Exercising three to five times a week increases blood flow to the brain, which keeps it working smarter and reduces the risk of ministrokes.

“It’s fairly common when we see someone with early memory troubles, we’ll see a certain degree of ministrokes that have occurred over time,”  says William Hu, a neurologist at Emory University.

Healthy eating may also decrease stroke risk.  Food rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fish and walnuts are very important for brain health and people who eat lots of fish and seafood tend to have healthier brain aging overall.  As do people who eat a plant-based diet.

Reducing stress through meditation also helps keep our brains younger longer because significant stress causes brain changes that can lead to memory loss.  Dr. Hu says people who meditate tend to have better blood flow to the brain’s frontal cortex, the area  one must use to stay sharp and multitask and make accurate decisions.

So if you want to stay smarter longer, take steps now to improve your lifestyle by exercising, eating right and meditating.

(Copyright 2012 CNN.  All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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