5 directions for a healthy brain

Point 1Sleep Well
How well you sleep is important It can improve your mood and energy. It may reduce buildup in an abnormal protein called beta-amyloid plaque in the brain, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Point 2Eat Well
Various diets have been shown to help us have clear minds. A Mediterranean diet of foods rich in antioxidants can help fend off the harmful effects of oxidation in your brain.

Point 3Exercise
Regular exercise has been shown to lower risks for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise improves blood flow to the brain, thus helping mood and thinking.

Point 4Control Medical Risk Factors
High blood pressure, higher cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and smoking all increase the risk of dementia. You can control and reduce these risks. Start a brain healthy lifestyle, get an annual check-up and follow your doctor’s recommendations.

Point 5Stay Social
Leading an active social life can protect you against memory loss. Spending time with others, engaging in stimulating conversation, and staying in touch and connected with family and friends are good for your brain health. Studies have shown that those with the most social interaction in their community experience the slowest rate of memory decline.

About Brain Health

Currently there is no universally accepted definitions of brain health. The US Centers for Disease and Prevention define it as one’s ability to perform the mental processes of cognition, including the ability to learn and judge, use language, and remember. [1]  In simple terms, one’s ability to function well in everyday life. When your brain is healthy, you are able to make good decisions, solve problems, communicate and have a well-balanced life.

It is a known fact that: your brain ages just like the rest of your body – it shrinks in size, slows down in speed, and becomes less adaptable to change. There is much research on how to maintain brain health since we all want to live as full a life as possible for as long as possible. In fact, a recent survey of AARP adults 40+ showed that 90% felt staying mentally sharp was one of their top health related interest yet only about 56% are doing or know any of the proven activities to support their brain health. [2]

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy aging. What is a healthy brain? New research explores perceptions of cognitive health among diverse older adults. https://www.cdc.gov/aging/pdf/perceptions_of_cog_hlth_factsheet.pdf

[2] Skufca, Laura. 2015 Survey on Brain Health. Washington, DC: AARP Research, October 2015. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00114.001

Resources

Topics on Healthy Aging

why-the-MIND-diet-beats-peanut-butter-on-pancakes-300x157

Why Everyone is Obsessed With the MIND Diet

The MIND diet ranks among the top heart-healthy diets and is one of the easiest to follow. Its goal: to lower the risk of dementia and improve cognitive health.
Keeping sharp mind

Neuroplasticity of the Brain & Physical Exercise: Keeping a Sharp Mind

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to develop new neural pathways or connections between brain cells or neurons. Most neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s as well as mild cognitive impairment, are accompanied by a loss of brain plasticity.

What is Cognitive Aging?

As we age, our brains age too. Cognitive aging is a natural process that can have both positive and negative effects and these effects vary widely from person to person. Our brains age at different rates and in different ways.

It’s important to know that cognitive aging is not a disease. Brain changes as one ages are
normal and start at birth and continue throughout one’s life. While things like our knowledge and vocabulary increase with age, other abilities like decision-making, speed in which we do it and some memories may decline with age.  There is growing research that confirms it is possible to maintain cognitive health as one ages, allowing for an independent and full life.

Learn more at McKnight Brain Research Foundation

Mature friends playing cards at home

Resources

IOM_Cognitive Aging_1700-wide2015 Institute of Medicine Report
Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Cognitive Aging: Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action

Download from National Academies Press

Cognitive Aging report brief_Page_12015 Institute of Medicine Report Brief
Cognitive Aging, Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action

Links

American Heart Association, My Life Check | Life’s Simple 7

National Institute on Aging, Forgetfulness: Knowing When to Ask for Help
English | Espanol

National Institute on Aging, FAQs About Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias