As we get older, it’s normal to wonder if you’re doing all you can to protect your brain. Many people worry about developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. It’s estimated that as many as 5.5 million Americans age 65 and over live with Alzheimer’s.1 Research has now found that many of the changes that occur in the brain of those with Alzheimer’s and dementia occur years before the first symptom. 1 So what can you do to lower your risk of cognitive decline?
Getting regular exercise may benefit your brain health in the long-term. The thought is that exercise helps to provide your brain with increased blood flow and oxygen.2 Our body systems are all super interconnected. A good rule of thumb is, if it’s good for your heart, it will be good for your brain too. And there’s no reason to think your workouts have to be extreme, even a walk around the block will help to improve both brain and heart health.
Research has shown that eating a heart-healthy diet may also help protect your brain. Focus on getting plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. And limit your intake of sugar and saturated fat. No diet plan has been found to be the magic fix for cognitive decline, but the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet are right on track.2 Both of these diet plans put a focus on eating lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins like fish or chicken, and choosing healthy fats like olive oil.
Keep your brain busy
Several studies have shown that keeping your brain busy can help to keep it working well. Things like social interaction and brain games are helpful. Make sure to stay socially connected to friends and family, and try picking up a puzzle or new activity.2 Researchers aren’t really sure why it works, but it could be due to the way our nerve cells connect in the brain.