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What is cognitive reserve? It’s one of the key factors in brain resilience and the concept of cognitive reserve, or CR, is pivotal to the health of your brain. We take a deep dive into what it is and how you ca create more of it. Join us for a foray into cognitive fitness.

What is Cognitive Reserve & How Does It Impact Cognitive Health

Your cognitive reserve is your brain’s ability to problem solve, to find different solutions when you are faced with challenges. It’s the available cognitive bandwidth that your brain draws upon when there’s a problem or trauma. That bandwidth is your brain’s resilience or resistance to damage. The higher your reserve, the more able you are to resist clinical deficit. An insurance policy, of sorts, for your brain.

What is Cognitive Reserve: Origins

Cognitive reserve first came to the attention of scientists in 1988. A post mortem study of 137 people published in Annals of Neurology resulted in some very surprising data. There was a startling discrepancy between the degree of Alzheimer’s disease neuropathology and the manifestations of the disease. The scientists expected to see cognitive decline, reduction in brain mass and loss of neurons in subjects with Alzheimers. What they found turned conventional science upside down. Some of the subjects brains had Alzheimers but showed very little signs of the disease. Their brain mass was higher than the controls and they had a greater number of neurons. The concept of cognitive reserve was born.

What is Cognitive Reserve?: Creating Cognitive Fitness

Research since has demonstrated that there are steps that we can take to improve our cognitive fitness and our reserve. We show you how in 5 simple steps.

Reduce your stress levels.

We know it’s easier said than done sometimes when you’re being pulled in different directions but chronic stress can have a huge impact on key areas of the brain. Put yourself first for once and create some downtime in your day. Try going for a walk, meditation or listening to music and get a handle on your stress. Nothing (and we mean nothing) is worth damaging your health for.

Sleep (and more sleep).

Lack of sleep a regular basis is associated with a whole host of nasties from brain decline to diabetes. Think about your sleep hygiene, or how you prepare for sleep. This is exactly the same way that you create a routine by setting an alarm, getting up in the morning, cleaning your teeth, showering and washing your face except we’re working in reverse. Ditch tech, TV or anything with a blue light before bedtime. This will disrupt your brain and make sleep more difficult. Give yourself at least an hour to digest food before sleeping. Try herbal bedtime drinks, there are tons on the market and relax before you head off to the land of nod.

Get Connected.

Having a social network that you can meet up with, offload on and spend time with is crucial for your cognitive help. Creating or maintaining at work and outside of work will keep your brain fighting fit.

Challenge Yourself.

Continue to learn. Set yourself challenges, learn new things and continue to stretch yourself cerebrally. Keeping your brain active is important for creating that extra reserve, you never know when you might need it.

Eat a Plant Based Diet.

Try to get more fruit and vegetables into your diet. Think 12 a day rather than 5. There are some great recipes out there that will bust the myth that veggie is dull. We love Kris Carr’s recipe books they offer a great introduction to vegetarian recipes, smoothies and juices. A plant based diet has a number of benefits and not just around CR. It will help you to maintain a healthy weight, boost your mood and give you more energy.

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