When people think about staying fit, they generally think from the neck down. But the health of your brain plays a critical role in almost everything you do: thinking, feeling, remembering, working, playing — and even sleeping.
The good news is that emerging evidence suggests there are steps you can take to help keep your brain healthier as you age. These steps might also reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
Make brain-healthy life choices
Like other parts of your body, your brain may lose some agility as you get older. It can deteriorate even more if you don’t take care of it. Science is unlocking many of the mysteries of the brain, but we don’t have all the answers yet. You can do everything “right” and still not prevent Alzheimer’s disease. What’s offered here is the best and most up-to-date information available about brain health so you can make your own decisions about your overall health.
Physical exercise is essential for maintaining good blood flow to the brain as well as to encourage new brain cells. It also can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, and thereby protect against those risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Research suggests that high cholesterol may contribute to stroke and brain cell damage. A low fat, low cholesterol diet is advisable. And there is growing evidence that a diet rich in dark vegetables and fruits, which contain antioxidants, may help protect brain cells.
Social activity not only makes physical and mental activity more enjoyable, it can reduce stress levels, which helps maintain healthy connections among brain cells
Mentally stimulating activities strengthen brain cells and the connections between them, and may even create new nerve cells.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia – brain disorders that affect your ability to function effectively in daily living. Well-established risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease are genetics and aging. Unfortunately, aging and genetics are two risk factors you can’t control.
It’s not known what causes Alzheimer’s disease or what role genetics plays in most cases of Alzheimer’s, though having parents or siblings with the disease increases your risk. A small percentage of cases is known to be caused by inherited mutated genes. In other cases, variants of specific genes increase risk, but even people who inherit such variants from both parents still may not get the disease. These risk factors that you cannot change will set a starting point for you, but there is hope that adopting healthy brain life habits might delay or prevent the appearance of Alzheimer’s disease.
Protecting brain health and preventing cognitive decline are an important focus of the worldwide Alzheimer’s disease research effort.
The post Your Brain Is Your Most Powerful Organ is property of The Alzheimer’s Association, Copyright © 2014. All Rights Reserved.