Brain Gain

The lifestyle choices you make today can protect your brain health tomorrow so think ahead…

Protecting yourself from Alzheimer’s disease is more than mind over matter. Studies reveal that lifestyle habits, from staying socially connected to eating the right foods, are significant. Here are four lifestyle changes that can boost your brain power:

  • Socialize
  • Nourish your brain
  • Work out your body
  • Exercise your mind

Socialize.  Beware of becoming reclusive. Studies show risk for Alzheimer’s goes up when you go it alone. So whether you volunteer, join a social club or simply spend more time with friends and family, an active social calendar may protect your brain. “Why this is, we’re not sure. It may be that relationships are also mentally challenging. Relationships work our brains,” States Dr. Steen, of Tampa Neurology.

Nourishment.  Eating a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, high fiber cereals and fish can lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study in the Archives of Neurology. To nourish your brain cells, others tout the benefits of dark, leafy green vegetables; fruits with high antioxidant levels (A, C, E, Selenium and Zinc), including berries, oranges, prunes and grapes; cold water fish such as salmon, trout and tuna; and almonds, pecans or other nuts.

Work out.  Often we think about physical fitness from the neck down. Yet, when we exercise we’re also giving our brains a workout. Physical exercise to a sweat 3 times a week for @30 minutes can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s. How does it work? Aerobic exercise improves blood flow and oxygen consumption in the brain. And if it is coupled with a mental activity, a mind-body connection will kick in.

Exercise.  Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “Use it or lose it.”  This wise saying applies to your brain as well as your muscles - so doing mental gymnastics once a day is vital. Try word puzzles. Study a topic that you are not familiar with. Mix it up a bit. Do memory exercise, attend a lecture or take up watercolors. What this does is form a new association between brain cells and these associations offer protection.

The Key….

…is to find activities you enjoy that combine all the above lifestyle habits, such as painting, find a word, or playing pickle ball. Aristotle said, “The sum is greater than the parts.” When you put all the ingredients into one big bowl the benefits are outstanding.

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