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Alzheimer’s Insights: How to take care of your brain

Scott Finley

It’s an exciting time in Alzheimer’s research.  The approval of the first treatment to address the underlying biology of Alzheimer’s disease earlier this month marked a new phase in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.

While there is not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s, there are things you can do to promote brain health.  Here are ten ways to love your brain.

  1. Break a sweat.Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.
  2. Hit the books.Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.
  3. Butt out.Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
  4. Follow your heart.Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart, and your brain just might follow.
  5. Heads up!Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seatbelt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, and take steps to prevent falls.
  6. Fuel up right. Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets, including Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), may contribute to risk reduction.
  7. Catch some Zzz’s.Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.
  8. Take care of your mental health.Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.
  9. Buddy up.Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community – if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an afterschool program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.

   10.Stump yourself.  Challenge and activate  your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically. Challenging your mind may have  short and long-term benefits for your brain.

Learn more at alz.org.

The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia – by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

 Scott Finley is Media Relations Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association® in Texas.  He can be reached at scfinley@alz.org