As neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s become more common, scientists are racing to find a cure. In the meantime, they have uncovered many methods to keep your brain active and healthy into old age.
Like most diseases, lifestyle plays a big role in your risk of developing dementia. Research has found that making smarter choices in your daily life can significantly help you prevent or delay the onset of dementia symptoms and cognitive decline. There are a variety of ways to cut your risk and improve your brain health by electing a healthier lifestyle.
1) Add more produce into your diet – People who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of developing dementia, according to Mayo Clinic. Scientists think it is because the flavonoids, chemicals found in these foods, provide benefits to the brain and help improve cognition. Cutting out saturated and trans from your diet will also help by decreasing the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s risk.
2) Incorporate more physical activity – Exercise also cuts your risk of developing dementia and dementia related death. Regular aerobic activity actually increases brain volume, thereby improving memory capabilities, according to a University of Illinois study. Scientists believe the benefits of moving come from the improved blood flow to the brain and number of complex tasks for the brain to manage at once, including various movements and balance.
3) Spend more time with other people – A Harvard study published in 2008 revealed that older people who had more active social lives in middle age have been shown to have lower risks of dementia than those who spend those years spent more in isolation or without daily communication with others. Socializing on a regular basis keeps the brain active and engaged, while also improving mental health and reducing the risk of depression that comes along with being alone.
4) Focus on getting good sleep – Lack of sleep has been increasingly tied to a higher risk of dementia. A recent study found that individuals with poor sleep patterns developed more protein plaques in their brain, which are associated with memory loss and Alzheimer’s. Poor sleep also increases stress, which adds to the risk of both heart disease and dementia later in life. Don’t think you are doing yourself any favors by staying up late to get things done. In reality, you could be doing damage to your brain.
5) Listen to music more often – Dementia research has demonstrated an emphasis on the effects of music on dementia patients lately, and amazing results have come from it. Neuroscientists at George Mason University found that singing along to familiar show tunes actually enhanced brain function and improved cognitive ability in patients with moderate to severe dementia, many of whom were living in secure ward facilities. Music therapy is gaining traction in many places across the globe, as the fight against memory loss and dementia continues.
The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s is expected to triple by the year 2050, so taking steps to protect your brain from cognitive decline is critical amidst an age of lengthened life expectancies and improved medical technology. Opting for healthy choices in your daily life will help keep your brain functioning at its full potential for years to come.