According to the Alzheimer’s Association, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s Disease once every 67 seconds. It is the sixth leading cause of death in America, and out of the top 10 causes of death, it is the only one that cannot be cured, slowed, or prevented. As of 2015, 5.3 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s Disease, with 5.1 million of those being age 65 or older.
While this devastating disease cannot be completely prevented, there are ways you can take care of yourself throughout your life which can keep your brain healthy and greatly delay its onset. According to the nonprofit organization HelpGuide.org, there are 6 main components to improving your brain health and helping to stave off Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Regular Exercise– The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation Reports that regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing the disease by up to 50 percent. Your goal should be to log at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. While cardio and strength training are ideal, they are not mandatory methods if you have physical limitations. Speak with your physician to determine the best workout routine for you.
- Healthy Diet– A healthy brain requires eating habits which reduce inflammation, promote energy production, and maintain consistent levels of insulin and blood sugar in your body. All of these things are supported by a Mediterranean diet, which is one packed with vegetables, whole grains, beans, olive oil, and fish, and low in meat and dairy. You also want to incorporate foods that have been known to help remove toxins and debris at the cellular level. These include blueberries and other dark berries, ginger, green tea, and soy products.
- Mental Stimulation– Much like your body, your brain needs exercise. Look to involve yourself in activities which will keep you mentally active and sharp. These can include learning a new hobby, working on crossword puzzles, and playing card games. Believe it or not, this can even be accomplished by completing everyday tasks, such as eating, with your non-dominant hand.
- Quality Sleep– New research suggests that disrupted sleep is a potential risk factor of Alzheimer’s Disease. Deep sleep is needed for both memory formation and to flush out the toxins in your brain. It is very important to establish a regular sleep schedule for yourself, and if you are having difficulty doing so, consult with your physician for suggestions.
- Stress Management– Stress can lead to a decrease in the size of your hippocampus, a critical part of the brain which aids in nerve cell growth. It is recommended that you practice daily relaxation activities, be it taking up yoga, unwinding in a bath before bed, or deep breathing exercises.
- Social Engagement– There is no substitute for in-person face-to-face interaction when it comes to developing your memory and cognition. Create a weekly card playing group, take classes at your local community college, or join a social club in an area of interest in order to make sure you are getting the social interaction your brain needs to stay healthy.