The thought of getting dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease as you get older is a frightening prospect, especially when you have witnessed someone you know, perhaps a family member who have died because of it. Researchers are still continuously racing to find a cure. But because the prevalence of dementia seems to climb every year, the focus now is on prevention and treatment strategies.
According to medical research, delaying dementia is possible through a combination of healthy lifestyle choices and habits. Controlling particular risk factors can also maximize your chance of keeping your brain health and preserve your cognition. Dementia is complex and can be due to many factors. While your genetics and age are outside your control, there are 6 different ways to keep a healthy brain.
1. Keep An Active Lifestyle
The Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation states that exercising regularly can reduce your risk of developing dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases by up to 50%. Exercising requires total body movements which stimulates the brain’s ability to make new connections and keep the old ones working.
There are varied exercises you can practice, but one important note to keep in mind is to protect your head because head trauma may increase your risk of getting dementia. This includes head hits while playing football, soccer, skating, and other accidents. Make sure to wear your helmet whenever you decide to go biking or riding a motorcycle.
Wear safety gear while engaging in sports like rock climbing or mountain climbing. Include coordination exercises to improve your balance and posture. This will also prevent falls and keep you agile. Tai Chi and yoga are great exercises that can improve your balance.
2. Increase Social Engagement
As human beings, we are social creatures who will never thrive in isolation, and neither do our brains. Socializing can protect us from developing neurodegenerative diseases as human interaction also keeps our brain engaged, so try to develop a strong network of friends. Make it a priority to keep people who truly care for you around you.
There is no need to be the life of the party or become a social butterfly. Simply make face-to-face connections with people and start conversations with them. You can join a club, visit a local community centre, chat using social media networks, get to know your neighbours, or make weekly meetings with close cousins.
3. Eat Healthily And Choose Food Wisely
Avoid trans fats as they help your body stimulate pro-inflammatory enzymes and produce free radicals. Inflammation and oxidative damage brought about by free radicals are one of the factors causing diseases like Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. To prevent this from happening, avoid consuming fast foods, packaged foods, and anything that contains hydrogenated oils.
Numerous epidemiological studies show that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of cognitive impairment. Stock on more whole grains, beans, vegetables, fish, and olive oil and spices in your pantry for you to whip up healthy daily meals easily.
Ginger, cinnamon and turmeric are among the highest antioxidant rich spices and can ultimately neutralize free radicals in the body. These spices are also produced as supplements to help treat chronic inflammation. Ginger tea and tumeric dietary supplements (UK alternative supplements can be found here) are the most popular anti-inflammatory remedies today. Just make sure to research good brands to avoid any negative side effects.
Eat more essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3. Evidence suggests that omega-3 helps prevent dementia and reduces beta-amyloid plaques and prevent coronary diseases. You can source omega-3 from trout, tuna, salmon, mackerel, seaweed and fish oil supplements.
Drinking tea also helps improve alertness and enhance memory. Since it is also packed with antioxidants and polyphenols, it is definitely a beneficial drink to have at least 2 to 4 cups a day.
Scientific studies show that taking ginkgo biloba, coenzyme Q10, turmeric curcumin, folic acid, vitamin B12, Vitamin D, fish oil, and magnesium have yielded positive results to combat Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms, so never skip on taking your multivitamins and other health supplements every day.
4. Stimulate Your Brain
Challenging your brain by learning something new will help prevent and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. An NIH Active study of older adults who receive at least 10 mental training sessions showed that their cognitive function did not just improve for months, it also had a lasting improvement 10 years after.
Simple tasks like communicating and interacting with people also help stimulate your brain. You can also do it on your own by reading more books loudly, studying new languages, and taking up a new hobby. You can also improve your long term memory and cognitive function by practicing memorization, answering brain teasers like crossword puzzles and sudoku.
5. Improve Your Quality of Sleep
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease are known sufferers of insomnia and other sleep problems. But recent research states that disruption of deep sleep can also contribute to neurodegenerative diseases.
An increased number of studies have linked insomnia or poor sleep quality to beta-amyloid plaque – a sticky substance that clogs the brain and interfere sleep. Deep sleep is essential in memory formation and other studies also prove that uninterrupted sleep can help flush out the toxins in the brain.
If you are having sleep problems, get screened first by seeking doctor’s advice. If you have breathing or snoring problems, there are certain recommended treatments you can follow to improve your sleep quality.
6. Stay Away From Stress
Persistent stress can take a heavy toll on your mental health. It reduces sharpness, prevents nerve cell growth and ultimately increases your risk of Alzheimer’s diseases and dementia. Simple stress management tools can help minimize the effects of stress. Take more in-between breaks at work and possible get a vacation leave and travel. You can also keep a good sense of humour and try to be positive all the time.
Getting dementia is truly one of the fears we all have, and it is daunting to imagine what can happen to us when that day arrives. Trying our best to stay healthy to prevent the onset of such neurological diseases is the only thing we can really do, and we should be health cautious starting right now.
[ Bio ]
Katrina Rice is a mom and a freelance writer. She strongly believes in the concept of holistic wellness through healthy and natural living, traveling and immersing one’s self in new activities. A self-proclaimed health enthusiast, she hopes to inspire more people to do the same.