When it comes to protecting the brain from dementia, studies show that lifestyle changes make a difference to cognitive function as we age. A recent article in The Times explored the challenges of diagnosing dementia with experts concluding that in time it should be treated with a combination of drugs and lifestyle changes similar to current treatment plans for heart disease.
In the early 2000s, studies were already linking Alzheimer’s to heart disease, and research has continued to confirm and elaborate on this idea. It makes sense; adequate blood and oxygen flow help the brain to perform optimally.
The most recent studies have gone as far as to say that making lifestyle earlier in life can help prevent dementia developing. Anyone can improve brain functionality as they age by implementing lifestyle changes like a better diet, cardio exercise, more sleep, and less stress.
7 simple lifestyle changes that keep brains healthy
1 – Keep an eye on heart health
Pay attention to any issues like hypertension, high lipids, cholesterol, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Having regular medical check-ups and ensuring the heart is in good shape will not only keep you free from heart disease but protect cognitive health too.
2 – Make time to exercise
Studies have linked a lack of aerobic activity to cognitive decline. Aerobic exercise has been shown to grow the areas of the brain most likely to shrink as you age. A brisk walk, a dance class, swimming, or a regular cycling routine, can all help maintain brain health.
3 – A heart-healthy diet is a brain-healthy diet
Opting for a Mediterranean diet can give the brain a welcome boost. Eating plenty of fish and veg, as well as switching to healthier oils like olive oil, helps support cognitive and cardio functions.
4 – Learn new things
Challenging your brain as you get older, keeps it healthy. Learning a new language, solving puzzles, playing chess, or learning how to write computer code are all great ways to keep your brain active.
5 – Get out and be social
Staying engaged with local communities and regularly communicating with family and friends is a factor in keeping brains active. Loneliness is said to result in poorer brain health.
6 – Sleep well
We all know that our brains feel sluggish after a miserable night’s sleep, but studies show that sleeping poorly over a long period is linked with cognitive decline. Treat sleep issues and make sure the brain gets all the rest and recovery it needs.
7 – Reduce stress
Finding ways to manage stress and cut it out of your life has many long term benefits, but perhaps one of the most important is the fact that reducing stress can keep dementia at bay.