In our post, “The Science Behind Dementia” we discussed how dementia-related illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease are a result of your brain’s neurons being attacked and destroyed, inevitably damaging and shrinking the brain. But v According to a number of studies there are fairly simple, day-to-day activities and habits that can help strengthen and protect your brain’s plasticity (the ability of the brain to develop new neuronal connections). There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but living a mentally and physically-healthy life can reduce your risk of getting it and/or slow down the progression of the illness.
If you google different ways to keep your brain healthy there will be lists upon lists of suggestions and tips, but we recommend starting with these three:
1. Mental Stimulation – As basic as it might sound, in order for your brain to stay strong it needs to be exercised just like your body. By challenging your brain with puzzles and memory games you’re forcing aging neurons and pathways to engage with one another, while also supporting the creation of new neurons. Sudoku anyone?
2. Healthy Eating – Similar to keeping your brain exercised like your body, it also needs to be nourished like your body. It’s suggested you eat lots of non-processed, all natural foods and keep up your veggie and fruit intake. In addition to this you should try to include foods with vitamin E, vitamin B12 and folic acid into your diet as often as possible.
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant which means it fights against the decline of deteriorating cells. You can find vitamin E in corn oil, leafy greens, eggs, almonds, etc.
- Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep blood cells strong and healthy, while also assisting in the production of DNA and neurotransmitter (which is how nerve cells relay messages to one another). B12 is found in beef, pork, poultry, veal and fish.
- Folic acid is another B vitamin and aids in cell division and growth, it’s also a DNA synthesizer. Folic acid is found is asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, egg yolk, lettuce, milk, etc.
3. Physical Exercise – Studies have shown that exercising on a regular basis can help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia related illnesses. When you’re physically active your blood is flowing and there are chemicals released that not only help protect the brain but also rejuvenate some of the brain connections that weaken with age. It’s recommended you exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week and this includes any activity that gets your heart rate up.
If you can get into the habit of practicing the above suggestions on a daily basis you’ll not only be protecting yourself against a slew of mental and physical diseases but you’ll also feel rejuvenated and more energized! =)