In one way or another, just about everyone has had to deal with the heartache and frustration brought on by Alzheimer’s and dementia. Maybe you have friends or coworkers who’ve described their family members being slowly taken away from them. Or someone close to you has had this disease and you’ve been forced to witness the effects for yourself. It could even be that you’ve noticed yourself forgetting things and worry that you’re going through the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
For a long time, most medical experts had little to say about preventing the disease because they didn’t believe that it was possible. But now, more and more people are saying that there are a number of things that you can do not only to slow down deterioration but actually reverse it and even prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s altogether. Ultimately, it’s about leading a lifestyle that keeps your brain healthy. What does that mean?
Stay fit. We all know that we should exercise to keep our bodies healthy but it actually does a world of good for our brains as well. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation says that regular exercise (a half-hour aerobic workout five times a week, and 2-3 strength training sessions) can cut your chances of getting Alzheimer’s in half!
Sleep more (and better). If you are deprived of sleep, your brain just doesn’t work as well. You can’t store or process things, solving problems gets harder, and you’ll have trouble not only remembering things but even creating new memories. What does “deprived” of sleep mean? Most normal adults need at least eight hours a night. People who have trouble sleeping at night should create a nightly ritual that tells their brain it’s time for bed, work on sticking to a schedule, and set the mood by banning anything with a screen from the bedroom since TVs and computers can be too stimulating.
Get a life. Those who have an active social life where they become connected to a lot of people and engage in a variety of tasks have shown again and again in testing that they possess better memory and cognition skills. Even just a few brief moments of bonding with others can help since our brains crave interaction just like we do. If you’re not a social butterfly, try taking a class or volunteering.
Eat smart. In general, the kinds of eating habits that will keep your body healthy will also keep your brain in tune, but there are also specific “brain foods” to try. Drinking 2–4 cups of white, green, or oolong tea has been shown to be particularly beneficial to brain functioning. Other foods like blueberries, ginger, soy products, and fatty fish protect glial cells from damage. Why is that important? Because researchers believe these cells can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease by getting rid of toxins and brain “debris.”
Keep learning. Everyone’s heard the phrase “use it or lose it,” right? Well, it turns out to be very true about our brainpower. Those who continue to challenge their brains to learn new tasks and engage with the world around them throughout their life are far less likely to suffer from a cognitive loss. It’s particularly useful to do things that require you to organize, interact, and communicate, but you can also make your brain sit up and take notice by taking new paths, learning new things, and switching up your routines.