People often think that diseases like Dementia and Alzheimer’s are all or nothing, that you get them or you don’t, but the reality thanks to the latest research is that about 40 % of risk associated with these brain diseases are related to lifestyle choices and our habits (Prince, M. Et al, 2014). We also know now that dementia and Alzheimer’s diesease take years to progress and often start to change our brains as much as 30 years before symptoms are noticeable. This is good news because it gives us an opportunity to modify our habits and life styles now to protect our brain’s in the future.
So what can you do today you ask that will have a long lasting benefit and protection of our most precious organ? Well read on as these simple subtle changes can make a huge difference in our lives now, yes you will feel better right now, and also, just as importantly in the future. Think of this as brain insurance a little bit now pays off big in the future. So here they are:
#1. Physical Exercise. The number one more influential habit you can do everyday that makes a difference in your brain now and in the future. So how much is enough? General guidelines say at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, such as going on a brisk walk, or cycling or most fun, dancing. You should also do strengthening exercises twice a week, such as gardening or yoga (Dementia.org, 2015). The best advice just get up and do something anything, that’s right any increase in movement and activity helps our brain. Our brain likes to move!
#2. Managing your Vascular Health. Wait, what does that mean? Easy, it is our heart, our blood pressure, and our “cardiac numbers” including cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Knowing and managing our cardiac and vascular health can play a significant part in our risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s. Get your labs done and check with your health care provider and see if you need to make adjusts to your cardiac and vascular health habits.
#3. Diet and Nutrition. Today we have so many options for eating a healthy diet it seems simple yet we remain with skyrocketing obesity rates. So what are a few things you can do today to adjust your diet to protect you brain? Most research promotes a Mediterranean diet high in good oils and fats low in carbohydrates and low in read meat and dairy (Hayden et al 2017). Increase veggies decrease sugar and processed foods will give you great benefit so start there. Additionally there is new research about inflammation and gut health so digest that are anti- inflammatory may prove beneficial.
#4. Keeping Your Brain Sharp. Brain games and keeping your mind sharp. Evidence is mixed on specific brain games helping to prevent or protect our brains but there is evidence that keeping our minds active, engaged and stimulated help our grey matter and stave off decline in cognition. Playing memory games, recounting activities and events and doing math can make a difference to keep our mind’s sharp. You can do it won’t spending money just practice recounting you day step by step before you go to bed. try using your on dominant had to brush you teeth or hair this simple act can help rewire and stimulate our grey matter.
#5. Sleep and Sleep Patterns. There is evidence that how long we sleep and how well we sleep (the quality of sleep) influence our brain health. This is an easy hack, for a few days track how and when you sleep then make this simple change try to go to bed around the same time each night and try and sleep for at least 7 or 8 hours per night. Address any issues that impact your quality of sleep watching TV before bed, decreasing blue light and electronic device usage can improve sleep time and quality. So say good night and get a good sleep.
These simple hacks can make a huge difference in your overall health and help to modify your risk association with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Do it today and your brain with thank you tomorrow and for years to come!
Prince, M., Prince, E. Albanese, M. Guerchet, M. Prima, Dementia and Risk Reduction: An Analysis of Protective and Modifiable FactorsAlzheimer’s Disease International, London (2014)World Alzheimer’s Report 2014
Dementia Help Sheet, 2015. Http://www.dementia.org.au/files/helpsheets/Helpsheet-DementiaQandA08-PhysicalExercise_english.pdf, 2015
Hayden K.M., Beavers D.P., Steck S.E., Hebert J.R., Tabung F.K., Shivappa N., Casanova R., (…), Rapp S.R. The association between an inflammatory diet and global cognitive function and incident dementia in older women: The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (2017) Alzheimer’s and Dementia, 13 (11) , pp. 1187-1196.