12 Ways to Maintain Brain Function as You Age

12 Ways to Maintain Brain Function as You Age


If you’re like a lot of people, you probably won’t think much about brain health until you reach an age where it becomes more of a concern. However, it’s never too early to start taking care of this most vital organ. Whatever your age, there are habits you can cultivate to support and maintain brain function, and, according to research, even ways to reverse aging by encouraging stem cell production.

Factors that Contribute to Aging & Cognitive Decline

As people grow older, starting around age 60 or 70, certain parts of the brain shrink, especially those related to learning and other complex mental activities. Synaptic connections and neurotransmitter production decline, meaning communication between neurons may not be as effective as it once was.

A loss of both antioxidant and stem cell production further contributes to issues with brain function. As the body becomes less equipped to combat free radicals, also known as reactive oxidative species (ROS), cells are overwhelmed by oxidative stress, which can cause cellular damage as well as adverse effects on RNA and DNA. This is harmful to both the brain and health throughout the entire body.1

In 2017, a research study revealed that stem cells in the brain’s hypothalamus likely control how fast aging occurs in the body.2 The research showed that the number of neural stem cells naturally declines with age and this decline accelerates aging. But, this study also found that the effects of this loss are not irreversible. By replenishing these stem cells or the molecules they produce, it’s possible to slow and even reverse various aspects of aging throughout the body.

Helpful Habits to Support Cognition

Many of the changes that can help brain health are relatively simple, to the point that you might not associate them with better cognitive function. However, starting with the basics is always necessary to provide a strong foundation for health.

1. Exercise

Just 30 minutes of exercise daily can help reduce brain cell loss! Research by the University of Miami in Florida found that individuals over the age of 50 who engaged in little to no exercise experienced a decline in memory and thinking skills comparable to 10 years of aging in 5 years, compared with those who took part in moderate or high-intensity exercise. Essentially, physical activity slowed brain aging by 10 years. 

An additional study by the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases demonstrates that dancing, in particular, is especially advantageous for both maintaining and reversing signs of aging in the brain, likely due to the fact that dancing engages multiple areas of the brain, including those responsible for hand-eye coordination, execution and control of voluntary movement, and the planning of fine and complex motor actions.3

2. Maintain Your Social Life

Studies have shown people that have good social ties actually live longer. Research suggests that older people who are more socially engaged and have larger social networks tend to have a higher level of cognitive function.4

3. Use All Your Senses

Keep your eyes and ears sharp. Not only is it important for your senses to function properly in order for the brain to process your surroundings, but this can also have a major impact on social interaction. Those with hearing impairments may be less likely to engage with family and friends, which, as mentioned previously, plays a big role in both brain and mental health.

4. Keep Learning

Like a muscle, your brain needs to be exercised to stay healthy. Taking on new hobbies and learning new things is a great way to keep the brain working well. Engage in puzzles, trivia, games, reading, and anything else that stimulates mental activity.

5. Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Avoiding cigarettes and excessive alcohol is helpful, but it’s also important to avoid toxins that may be lurking in places you might not consider. Processed foods are full of chemicals and inflammatory oils that wreak havoc on cells throughout the body. In addition, most conventional body products, including shampoo, lotions, and deodorant, contain harmful parabens, phthalates, and other substances that are absorbed by the skin within seconds. 

6. Keep Your Levels in Check

High cholesterol and diabetes have both been linked with dementia. Check your levels! This is really important because there are risk factors associated with cognitive decline, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and also blood sugars.

7. Manage Stress

Stress can kill brain cells and even reduce the size of the brain. Chronic stress has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Studies have shown that meditation, yoga, and spending time in nature are effective ways to reduce feelings of stress and overwhelm.5

8. Get Sufficient Sleep

Sleep is important to a number of brain functions, including how nerve cells (neurons) communicate with each other. In fact, your brain and body stay remarkably active while you sleep. Recent findings suggest that sleep plays a housekeeping role that removes toxins in the brain that build up while you are awake, so don’t be shy about sleeping more than eight hours!

9. Focus on Gut Health

The more research is done, the more it verifies a vital connection between the gut and the brain. Several neurotransmitters are made in the gut, including up to 90% of serotonin. This is crucial for communication within the nervous system, but also for a healthy mood. Address digestive issues and be sure to include pre- and pro-biotics on a daily basis to support a healthy microbiome.

10. Eat Right

No matter how many diet trends come and go, research consistently demonstrates that both the Japanese and Mediterranean-style diets are some of the best anti-inflammatory ways of eating.6 Both regions naturally eat a lot of healthy fats high in Omega-3 (key to brain health and mood), high fiber, and antioxidant-rich vegetables, grains, and herbs. In addition, focusing on nutrient deficiencies and rectifying those is particularly helpful, especially targeting protein, calcium, and fiber intake, as well as including enough zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper in your diet and supplement regimen.

11. Hydrate Yourself

Staying properly hydrated enables the brain to stay alert so we can keep our attention and focus. Drinking water also regulates the brain’s temperature and gets rid of toxins and dead cells. Studies have identified a link between dehydration and mood disturbances, showing that adequate hydration is just as important for mental health as it is for physical health.7

12. Address Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress is a major contributing factor to aging in the brain and the body as a whole.8 Because the body’s ability to produce its own antioxidants declines with age, it’s imperative to make lifestyle choices that reduce exposure to toxins and other things that create ROS in the body. 

Proper levels of antioxidants support mitochondrial efficiency, which leads to the promotion of ATP, as well as the production and function of neurotransmitters.9 This also supports the synthesis of hormones and stem cells, which is key to keeping the brain functioning at its best. 

Disclaimer: These statements and products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information on this show, and C60 Power products, are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Please consult a healthcare professional before starting any new diet or exercise regimen. Individual results may vary.


1. https://www.healthline.com/health/oxidative-stress

2. https://www.statnews.com/2017/07/26/aging-brain-hypothalamus-mice

3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170825124902.htm

4. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-minute-the-benefits-of-being-socially-connected

5. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-manage-and-reduce-stress

6. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-best-anti-inflammatory-diets

7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257694

8.  https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpregu.00327.2006

9.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261561418324269

Ken Swartz is the founder and Chief Science Officer of C60 Power, a health and wellness company committed to delivering the highest quality Carbon 60 products available. Ken earned a Master of Science degree from the University of Colorado at Denver and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Arizona State University.