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5 Ways to Stay Sharp and Keep Your Brain Healthy

Brain health is basically the boss when it comes to your overall health. After all, without a healthy brain, you wouldn't be able to enjoy the activities you love the most, whether it be a solo run, a competitive trivia game with friends, or rolling-on-the-floor giggles with your little one. Having a healthy mind is crucial, which is why you'll want to read on as Ajeet Sodhi, MD, a neurologist and the director of neurocritical care at the California Institute of Neuroscience, shares the habits and activities he does to promote and improve brain function every single day.

1. Regularly exercise your mind
Just like the rest of your body, Dr. Sodhi says keeping your brain active a and engaged is key to optimal brain health. In a recent study conducted by the University of Exeter, researchers found people who regularly completed word puzzles were found to have a brain that clocked in 10 years younger than their actual age. If puzzles aren't really your thing, don't sweat-learning new skills or languages, regularly reading, and otherwise engaging your brain in different ways can help.

2. Munch on brain food
Sticks to foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients that help to boost brain health, like fatty fish (think salmon or mackerel), eggs, yogurt, and fresh juice. In a 2017 study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, lutein was shown to potentially have a protective effect against cognitive decline. Rounding out the list are foods that contain polyphenols, like red grapes, cranberries, blueberries and tomatoes.

3. Sweat it out
Recent research presented by the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) showed that regular exercise not only has long-term effects but also immediate ones for brain and mental health -- just one sweat session can lead to an instant cognitive boost. The American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like brisk walking or dancing) or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running, cycling, or swimming laps).

4. Live with purpose
Sound far out? Think again. A 2014 study showed that participants who volunteered reported "significantly better physical and mental health" than those who didn't volunteer. All the more reason to get out there and lend a hand, right?

5. Drink up
Whether it's a cup of coffee or drinking water, Dr. Sodhi they both make his list for better brain health. Not only does he enjoy the benefits of caffeine in terms of maintaining energy levels and staying more alert, but Dr. Sodhi says research shows there are compounds in coffee that impact the brain proteins connected to Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.