Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s

6 Ways to Improve Your Brain Health

crossword_background_001I worry about my brain. As the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia increases, I want to do more to protect my memory and cognitive function.

While we wait for a cure for Alzheimer’s or better treatments for dementia, what can you do to help prevent the diseases? You can lead a more brain-healthy lifestyle that can slow down the process of deterioration. No matter what your age, you can take steps now to keep your brain healthy.

Here are 6 ways to start improving your brain health today:

Stay active
Physical activity is a valuable part of living a more balanced life and can also lower the risk of cognitive decline. According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, physical exercise reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 50%.

In addition to protecting against Alzheimer’s and dementia, creating a regular exercise routine can also boost your mood, increase energy levels and reduce stress.

Read more about the benefits of exercise.

Eat a healthy diet
Your brain needs a nutritious diet to perform at its best. Make sure you are eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats. Focus on creating good eating habits that reduce inflammation and provide a steady supply of fuel.

Here are more diet tips to keep your brain healthy and protected:

  • Follow a Mediterranean diet – This approach to healthy eating includes a balanced diet rich in fish, whole grains, nuts, olive oil and fresh produce.
  • Avoid trans fats and saturated fats – You should reduce your intake of full-fat dairy products, red meat, fried foods, fast food and processed foods.
  • Eat heart-healthy options – If you’re following a diet plan that’s good for your heart, it’s also going to be good for your brain. When you reduce your risk of heart disease, you’re also helping protect your brain.
  • Add omega-3 fats – Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Eat cold-water fish, such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel and sardines.

Keep mentally active
When you continue to learn new things and challenge your brain throughout life, you are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s a good idea to follow the “use it or lose it” approach. Activities that involve multiple tasks or include different types of stimulation, such as communicating, interacting and organization, will offer the greatest benefits and protection.

Here are more ways to exercise your brain.

Have a social life
We are social creatures. Relationships are important to our health. If you are isolated, you’re not thriving and neither is your brain. Studies show that the more connected we are and the more relationships we have, we test better for memory and cognition.

Do you have trouble making friends? Here are a few ways to build a strong support system and develop new relationships.

  • Volunteer – There are so many great causes you can support and giving back is good for your health!
  • Make weekly plans with friends – Take the initiative and get together with friends. You can go to the movies, visit the park, creating a walking group, or check out local museums.
  • Take a class – Join a gym or sign up for classes at a local college. It’s a great way to meet new people and stimulate your brain.
  • Get to know your neighbors – You may have people nearby who have similar interests to you. Make it a point to know your neighbors.

Manage your stress
Chronic stress takes a toll on the body as well as on your brain. Stress can lead to shrinkage in key memory areas of the brain, hamper nerve cell growth and increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

There are many things you can do to prevent stress and keep your stress levels in check. Even the foods you eat can help you control stress.

Get plenty of sleep
Your brain needs to rest. A good night’s sleep helps your brain function at maximum capacity. When you don’t get enough sleep, you are cranky and tired. Lack of sleep also impairs your ability to think, solve problems and store or recall information. Deep, REM state sleep is important for memory formation and retention. Most adults need at least 8 hours of sleep per night. If you’re getting less sleep than that, your health, productivity and creativity can suffer.

To protect your brain health, embrace a balanced lifestyle that will improve your overall health. A balanced life includes exercising, eating a nutritious diet, establishing good relationships, reducing stress, and getting plenty of sleep.

Advertisements

9 health benefits of drinking coffee

Cup of coffee health benefitsI am not a morning person. My family knows it’s best not to talk to me until I’ve been up for at least an hour, possibly two hours.

Otherwise, you might get your head bitten off. Don’t expect me to make any decisions. And, if you tell me anything important in that first hour that I’m awake, it’s very likely that I won’t remember it at all.

I love my morning cup of coffee. I only have one cup – but it’s a gigantic 16-ounce cup of coffee. I love the smell. I love the warmth. And I love the taste. I have probably started every day with a cup of coffee for over 20 years. I honestly don’t think I could do without it.

You hear all sorts of bad things about coffee. For instance, it will stunt your growth. My dad used to tell me when I was a kid and wanted to drink his coffee that it would “put hair on my knees.” There have even been claims that it can cause heart disease and cancer.

More recent research has shown that coffee has many health benefits when you drink it in moderate amounts. Here are 9 health benefits of drinking coffee:

Live longer
A few recent studies have shown that drinking coffee can actually help you live longer. During one study, men who drank 2 or 3 cups of coffee a day were 10% less likely to have died during the study. Women who drank the same amount were 13% less likely to have died.

Fight cancer
The likelihood of getting some kinds of cancer – including prostate, oral and liver cancer or breast cancer recurrence – may be lessened by drinking coffee. While scientists aren’t sure how coffee helps lessen the chances of these types of cancer, it’s worth it to keep drinking coffee.

Prevent Parkinson’s
Coffee may lower the chances of developing Parkinson’s disease as well as lessen the symptoms of the disease. Drinking 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day can reduce the risks of developing the disease by as much as 25%.

Protect against diabetes
Consuming 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day may lower your chances of developing type II diabetes by 25%. Each additional cup of coffee lowered the risk even further.

Reduce dementia and Alzheimer’s
Coffee not only gives us a short-term caffeine boost to sharpen our minds, it can also give us a similar affect for the long-term. Coffee drinkers have up to a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Lower risk of heart disease and stroke
Coffee has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. In one study, those who drank 1 to 3 cups of coffee a day were 20% less likely to be hospitalized for heart-related concerns.

Take in antioxidants
Coffee is rich in antioxidants. When present in your bloodstream, antioxidants can build up your immune system and help you fight off sickness. Coffee also serves as a source for several vitamins and minerals, such as riboflavin, niacin, potassium and manganese.

Protect your skin
Drinking coffee may also help protect you against developing basal cell carcinoma – the most common type of skin cancer. It may be the caffeine found in coffee that helps reduce the risk of this cancer.

Combat depression
Drinking coffee may help fight depression. If you drink 4 or more cups of coffee a day, you are 10% less likely to be depressed than those who didn’t drink coffee. Researchers believe that the antioxidants found in coffee may provide mood-lifting benefits.

So, relax and enjoy a few cups of coffee. But, keep in mind that moderation is still the key. Too much of a good thing can still be harmful.

Do you start your day off with a good cup of coffee? What is your favorite thing about drinking coffee?