While scientists continue to search for a cure for brain-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease, numerous studies have revealed lifestyle changes that have been shown to preserve cognitive abilities. Let’s explore the brain-healthy lifestyle.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
As with cardiovascular health, diabetes, and other health concerns, diet is an essential component in preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.
- Keep it colorful – Eating too many white foods, like sugar, white rice, white flour, and pasta, instead of whole foods can negatively impact blood sugar and cause inflammation. Colorful fruits and vegetables, however, supply the body with protective antioxidants, vitamins, and essential nutrients.
- Say Yes to Omega-3s – While not all fats are bad, it is important to understand the difference between them. In addition to supporting cardiovascular health, blood sugar regulation, immunity, and cancer prevention, Omega-3s have been tied to supporting concentration, learning, and sharpening the mind. Foods that contain Omega-3s include: cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, sardines, and anchovies), seaweed, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and egg yolks.
- Avoid Trans Fats – Fast foods and packaged or fried foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils impact brain health by causing inflammation and producing free radicals. Try to avoid them whenever possible.
Proving that hard work pays off, one study showed that staying physically active helps maintain brain integrity and prevent cognitive decline and brain atrophy, even for people who have a genetic predisposition for Alzheimer’s Disease.
To gain the most benefit, it is recommended to exercise for 150 minutes or more each week. For best results, follow a plan that includes cardio and activities that build balance, coordination, and strength.
Face-to-face interaction is very important for optimal well-being. Making an extra effort to connect with people in the community, expanding your horizons, and developing a network of support. Here are a few ways to expand your social calendar:
- Join a social group
- Join the community at The Admiral at the Lake
- Get to know your neighbors
- Plan an outing each week (theatre, movies, museums, etc.)
Learning new things stimulates your brain and helps stave-off Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. What kinds of learning activities interest you?
- Learn to speak a foreign language
- Play a musical instrument
- Enjoy a novel or biography
- Create a piece of artwork
- Memorize a poem
- Learn how to play backgammon or chess
Learn to Relax
Having trouble sleeping? Getting enough rest is very important to maintaining optimal health, memory, and mood. There are two issues at play here, sleep and stress reduction. If you have difficulty sleeping, you may want to get screened for sleep apnea. People who maintain a regular sleep schedule and establish a bedtime routine find that it helps train their brains to recognize and respond to their need for deep sleep.
Finding the most effective stress reduction technique may take some effort but offers great reward. Consistent stress can have a negative impact on brain health, increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. Here are a few proven stress reduction techniques:
- Breathing exercises
- Meditation and prayer
- Stretching exercises like yoga
- Cardiovascular exercises like walking or swimming
- Listen to music
- Enjoy a good laugh
Live with Purpose
Combining the benefits of a healthy diet, regular exercise, social interaction, increased knowledge, and proper rest are important parts of a healthy lifestyle and preservation of brain integrity. Please understand that this content is provided for your information only. We strongly recommended that interested readers consult a primary care provider to discuss any dietary or lifestyle changes prior to implementing these suggestions. The staff at The Admiral at the Lake leads some educational programs on topics that benefit Admiral residents and family members. They welcome your comments and questions.
The Admiral at the Lake is a continuing care community dedicated to supporting and promoting the personal independence, health and wellness of community members. We avoid using the terms retirement community or senior living, because The Admiral at the Lake encourages a lifestyle that rejects stereotypes of aging. Call 773.433.1801 or click today to get your free information.