Pump up your brain power!
June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and this presents an opportunity to learn more about this progressive and devastating disease. Including tweaks you can make to boost your brain health.
Currently, more than 6 million Americans, aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease making it the most common form of dementia.
While much scientific focus is directed at treatment and potential cures, a growing body of research suggests that healthy lifestyle choices may help reduce the risk and slow cognitive decline.
Studies are working to define an optimal lifestyle ‘recipe’ that we can all embrace to help our brains age well, says Annemarie Barnett, the Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Alzheimer’s Association chapter. Newest research is focusing on the relationship between a healthy heart and body and a healthy brain.
Here are five tips to keep your brain in tip-top shape!
• Get moving
Regular cardiovascular exercise increases blood flow to the body and brain. There is strong evidence that regular physical activity is linked to better memory and thinking.
• Keep a heart-healthy diet
Say ‘yes’ to fruits and veggies and stick to a well-balanced diet. Some evidence suggests a proper diet is linked to cognitive performance. The Mediterranean and DASH diets, which emphasize whole grains, green leafy vegetables, fish and berries, are linked to better cognitive functioning, and help reduce risk of heart disease as well.
• Sleep on it
Maintaining a regular, uninterrupted sleep pattern benefits physical and psychological health. It also helps clear waste from the brain. Adults should get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Sticking to bedtime routines improves quality rest.
• Stay connected
Meaningful social engagement may support cognitive health, so make an effort to stay in touch with friends and family. Engage your mind by doing thoughtful activities, like completing a jigsaw puzzle or playing strategy games. Or challenge yourself by learning a new language or musical instrument.
• Give your heart some love
Recent study shows strong evidence that a healthier heart is connected to a healthier brain. The study shows that aggressively treating high blood pressure in older adults can help reduce the development of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Researchers are also studying a variety of other risk factors which may impact future cognitive impairment. Among them, excessive alcohol use, depression and hearing impairment.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that causes damage to nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain. Impacted neurons are responsible for memory, language and thinking. It is estimated that by 2050 the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will rise to nearly 13 million. Everyone who has a brain is at risk.
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