Maintaining a Healthy Brain from A to Z
If you’ve watched a friend or family member battle Alzheimer’s or a similar form of dementia, it’s probably made you worry and wonder what steps you can take to prevent it. While researchers still don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s, they do have a few ideas that might help prevent it.
From A to Z, here are a few steps you can take to lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease:
Active lifestyle: Staying active and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle is a great brain booster. It also lowers your risk for diabetes, which many researchers believe is linked to Alzheimer’s.
Be social: Socializing and staying connected to the world around you keeps your brain active. Meeting new people and engaging in new challenges also help older adults maintain a healthy outlook on life.
Cut the fat: High cholesterol is linked to a high-fat diet. Many researchers believe high cholesterol contributes to plaques in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s.
Depression assessment: Untreated depression is linked to higher rates of dementia. It’s important to talk with your physician if you are experiencing a case of the blues that you can’t shake.
Exercise: Engaging in 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week can aid in maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding a variety of health issues linked to Alzheimer’s ranging from high cholesterol to diabetes.
Friends matter: Having friends to share your life with helps reduce stress and promote happiness. Friends keep you active and engaged with the world, leading to a healthier body and brain.
Grapes each day: Consuming red grapes helps improve attention span and memory. Grapes reduce oxidative stress in the brain, which helps promote healthy blood flow.
Healthy heart: Researchers at Harvard say taking the right steps to maintain a healthy heart also promotes a healthier brain. Diet, exercise, stress management, and a healthy lifestyle keep your brain and your heart strong.
Interested and engaged: Don’t get stuck in a rut as you grow older. It’s bad for your brain and your body. Try to stay interested in current events and engaged with clubs and social organizations near your home.
Joe every morning: Coffee got a bad rap for many years. Researchers now say that drinking a few cups of joe each day can promote better brain health.
Kick the habit: Most of us know smoking is linked to a variety of cancers including lung cancer. But smoking also contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. In kicking the habit, you might avoid cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Language skills: Tackling a new foreign language can help pump up your grey matter. You can take a class at a nearby community college or check out CDs from your local library.
Mediterranean diet: There are many reasons to follow a diet that is primarily plant-based, and brain health is one of them. People who follow a Mediterranean diet have lower incidences of Alzheimer’s disease.
New hobbies: Learning new skills is like an aerobic workout for your brain. Whether it’s taking a photography class or learning calligraphy, take time to learn something new.
Oboe, guitar, or other instruments: Music therapy is also linked to a healthier brain. If you don’t already know how, learn to play a musical instrument. Your brain will thank you.
Pass on added sugar: A growing number of researchers believe there is a strong connection between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Some go as far as to say Alzheimer’s might actually be a type of diabetes. Maintaining a healthy blood sugar might help you prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer’s.
Quiet the mind: Meditation helps you quiet the mind and reduce stress. That’s important for maintaining a healthy brain.
Read: Whether it’s the latest spy novel or the daily newspaper, reading is one more activity believed to contribute to better brain health.
Swim: Adults who swim on a regular basis not only benefit from the physical exercise, but also from the mental health boost. It’s a workout that’s good for the body, mind, and spirit.
Take your blood pressure: If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension, work with your physician to manage it. New research shows a potential link between high blood pressure and dementia. The doctor might recommend you purchase a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
Unleash your inner artist: Creating art has brain health benefits that range from lower stress to higher self-esteem. Take a watercolor class, sign up for a pottery club, or join another art group that sounds interesting.
Vacation: A change of scenery gives you an opportunity to relax and enjoy yourself. Rent a cabin on a lake for a few days or head to the beach for a week. Your spirit and your brain will no doubt get a boost.
Window box garden: Digging in the dirt is another activity that benefits your physical and emotional well-being. If you have mobility challenges or limited space, a container or window box garden can be a great solution.
Xbox: Video games aren’t just for teens. In fact, older adults who engage in them may find these games help keep their brains sharp.
Yoga: This low-impact form of exercise has proven mental and physical benefits. They include greater flexibility, a sense of spiritual connection, and better cognitive well-being.
Zzzz’s: A good night’s rest is a must for maintaining brain health. Most physicians say 7 to 9 hours per night is best.