According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it’s never too late to start to get our brain in tip-top shape. The more you stimulate your brain the better your mental health for the future.
Research for the Alzheimer’s Association’s first ever conference on preventing the disease suggests a few ways to keep your brain fit:
1. Fruits and Vegetables are brain foods. In their study, 1.836 elderly men and women, the ones who drank fruit or vegetable juice at least three times a week had a 75% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s than those who juiced up less than once a week. Another study found that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may protect against cognitive decline.
2. Stay close to friends and family. In a study of 2,513 men, those with the least contact with friends and family in late life were nearly 3x more likely to develop dementia than those with the most social activity. Falling out of touch with friends and family increased risk even more.
3. Exercise your body. A healthy body produces a healthy mind. Diseases such as diabetes and heart disease can cause your brain to not get enough oxygen or the proper amount of insulin to work at its best.
4. Get mental stimulation. Through numerous studies, research with both mice and humans, doctors have found they by stimulating the mind through brain games and video games new brain cells develop that can build up a reserve against the loss of cells in the future. Any type of mental stimulation, which includes: reading; learning a new language; puzzles; math problems; etc. will help build new cells. It also works well with activities that require manual dexterity, such as drawing, painting or crafts.
5. Eat healthy. Heart health and brain foods help to increase the blood’s circulation, provide nutrients that rev up your brain function, and add years to your life.
6. Raise a toast, but in moderation. In a study of 471 adult children of Alzheimer’s patients, moderate drinkers and those who exercised regularly scored better on memory, problem solving and other mental tasks than those who didn’t drink or exercise. Abuse of anything, whether drugs or alcohol, will do more to damage your brain, but you don’t have to cut out alcohol altogether.
Readers Digest — Keep Your Brain Young., September 2005, page 59
Harvard Medical School, Family Health Guide — 12 ways to keep your brain young: