This week we are focusing on brain health. When people think about staying fit, they generally think from the neck down. But the health of your brain plays a critical role in almost everything you do; thinking, feeling, remembering, working, playing and even sleeping.
Alzheimer’s is not inevitable but many experts now believe you can prevent or at least delay dementia (even if you have a genetic predisposition). According to a recent analysis from the University of California in San Francisco, reducing Alzheimer’s risk factors like obesity, diabetes, smoking and low physical activity by just 25% could prevent up to half a million cases of the disease in the U.S.
Here are 5 ways you can boost your brain health now!
- Get moving! – Higher exercise levels can reduce dementia risk by 30 to 40 percent compared with low activity levels, and physically active people tend to maintain better cognition and memory than inactive people. Working out helps your hippocampus, the brain region involved in memory formation. As you age, that region shrinks, leading to memory loss.
- Seek out new skills – Learning spurs the growth of new brain cells. When your brain is challenged, you increase the number of brain cells and the number of connections between those cells. This does not mean doing crosswords like you typically might, but trying something new like Sudoku!
- Get social – Having multiple social networks helps lower your dementia risk. A rich social life may protect against dementia by providing emotional and mental stimulation. Social interaction also helps ward off depression and stress, which can contribute to memory loss.
- Find your purpose – Discovering your mission in life can help you stay sharp. According to a Rush University Medical Center study, individuals who approach life with clear intentions and goals at the start of the study were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease over the following seven years.
- Eat a healthy diet – A heart-friendly diet such as fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts and beans reduces Alzheimer’s risk by 34 to 48 percent in studies conducted by Columbia University. Recent studies also suggest that older people who eat the most fruit and vegetables, especially the leafy-green variety, may experience a slower rate of cognitive decline and a lower risk for dementia than, meat lovers.