If you don’t use it, you will lose it. This is not just an old woman’s story. It’s good advice that we all need to remember as we get older. Both your physical and cognitive functioning can slip. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an estimated 16 million Americans live with some form of cognitive impairment.
The number of people aged 65 and over living with Alzheimer’s is projected to increase from 5.8 million today to 13.8 million by 2050. Fortunately, a growing body of new research promises to improve and protect brain health, and potentially prevent dementia and cognitive decline.
By implementing the strategies found in these studies, you can learn how to improve your brain health and fight the battle against dementia. Here are recommendations for improving brain health:
Although experts have not yet specifically linked the dots to explain why sleep problems are linked to early signs of Alzheimer’s, numerous studies over the past few decades link sleep disorders to poor brain health.
One such study from Boston University Medical Center linked obstructive sleep apnea, the state of sleep that causes short periods of partial or total interruption of breathing, to higher rates of cognitive impairment. One key to preventing brain wasting is asking your sleep partner whether they have noticed that you snore or stop breathing while you sleep. Discuss daytime sleepiness with your doctor and ask if you should be checked for sleep apnea. Here are a few more ideas:
Set a sleep pattern. Go to bed and wake up around the same time in the morning.
Keep your bedroom cool and dark. Use an automatic thermostat to lower the temperature overnight and / or use lighter blankets. Replace the curtains in your bedroom with blackout blinds on the windows.
Avoid heavy eating and / or drinking before bed. When you’re hungry, grab a small snack instead.
Walking is good for your waistline, but a New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) study found it can give a big boost to your brain health, too. The impact of your foot on the ground creates pressure waves in your body that significantly increase the flow of blood to your brain, helping to prevent dementia. Along with general wellbeing, these blood spikes help maintain health and cognitive function.
Do not push yourself to jog or trot. The researchers found that while walking is less when your foot hits the ground than when you are running, when you walk it still creates large pressure waves in the body that significantly increase blood flow to the brain. Since there is no contact between the foot and the ground when cycling, cycling has no influence on the beneficial pressure waves in the brain. Here are some more ideas:
Take the stairs, not the elevator. If you’re only going up a story or two in a building, climb the stairs for a quick cardio game.
Go the extra mile. After shopping, drop your bags in the car and take an extra lap (or two) of the mall.
Join a hiking club. Form your own with family or friends for good exercise and socialization.
Although eating a healthy and balanced diet is known to promote brain health, researchers have yet to pinpoint the link between your diet and preventing dementia. However, some progress has been made. A study from the University of Illinois found that monounsaturated fats, which are nutrients in olive oils, nuts, and avocados, may be key to having a healthy brain.
Foods high in monounsaturated fat are key components of the Mediterranean diet, which is also linked to protecting long-term brain health. It is believed that eating foods rich in these acids helps the networking in your brain, which is responsible for maintaining cognition, work optimally. Here are some more ideas for a brain-boosting diet:
Focus on fresh food. Fill your shopping basket with vegetables, fruits and seafood (all components of the Mediterranean diet).
Avoid additives. This includes processed meats, added sugars, and trans fats.
Try something new. Replace your conventional vegetable salad with a crispy nut salad.
Find your zen
According to a study by the University of Waterloo, 25 minutes of hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation per day can significantly improve brain function and energy levels.
This type of yoga and mindfulness focuses the brain’s processing power on a selected number of things, such as your breathing or a yoga pose. These exercises improve focus and concentration in everyday life. Here are some more ideas to incorporate more calm into your life:
Keep a journal. Write down your good thoughts or experiences. Writing can be a great way to go through difficult times, and rereading what you wrote later can be a good reminder of your accomplishments.
Make time for breakfast. Do you just throw back a cup of coffee before you go to work? Eating a more balanced breakfast (and sitting down while doing it) can be far better for you and give you more energy.
Drive the long way home. If you’ve had a challenging day at work, try not to take that frustration home with you. Discover a new route, stop at your local bookstore, or take a short walk in the park to allay hassle and reduce the risk of escaping from your ignorant family.
Get plenty of vitamin C.
Vitamin C can do more than fight a bad cold. According to two other research studies, it is believed to have a significant impact on cognition. Vitamin C, found in orange juice, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, paprika, and kiwi, is believed to reduce oxidative stress. Reducing oxidative stress means free radicals are stronger than the body’s ability to fight them, which can lead to a deterioration in brain health and overall well-being. Here are some more ideas for including vitamins in your diet:
Shop smart. Not sure which fruits and vegetables to choose from your local grocery store or farmers market? The lightest contain the highest amounts of vitamin C.
Cook wisely. Steaming and / or microwaving vegetables in water will help retain most of the vitamin C.
Take a vitamin C supplement. Vitamin C can be found at your local drug or health food store (often in the form of chewable tablets). While these supplements can help, try not to rely on them as complete replacements for fresh fruits or vegetables.
Be wise in your heart
An opinion from the American Heart Association (AHA) says the same risk factors that cause heart disease are also major contributors to cognitive impairment in late life and Alzheimer’s disease. The connection is believed to be adequate blood flow that both the heart and brain need to function properly.
As you get older, blood vessels can slowly narrow, preventing optimal blood flow to your body. This form of heart disease is a leading cause of heart attacks and strokes, and it also causes damage to blood vessels that lead in and out of the brain, which puts brain health at risk.
Most of the risk factors for narrowing of the arteries known as atherosclerosis can be reduced by eating a healthy heart, exercising daily, avoiding tobacco products, and monitoring / controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Here are other ideas for maintaining good heart health:
Move. Your heart, body, and mood benefit from regular exercise. Avoid sitting too long. Take regular breaks to get up, stretch, and / or walk around.
Adopt a pet. A happy cat sitting on your lap and purring can be very comforting. A dog will be happy to accompany you on walks, keep you company and be very dedicated to you.
Manage your stress. You may not be able to completely remove stress from your life, but you can find ways to better manage it. Don’t become the strong, quiet guy. Share your concerns and / or concerns with others.
Observe the other vital functions of your body
Blood sugars aren’t the only things that need to be monitored. Keep track of your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. These can both be controlled through regular exercise, limited alcohol consumption, reduced stress, and proper diet. Blood pressure and high cholesterol can also be treated with medication. Two of the most effective types of blood sugar medication are diuretics (e.g., chlorthalidone, horsehide, and / or amiloride) and beta-blockers (e.g., acebutolol (Spectral), atenolol (Tenormin), and / or cetamolol (Karlene) doctors often recommend and prescribe statins (e.g. Atorvastatin (Lipitor), Flu vastatin (Lescot) and / or Lovastatin) Here are some ideas:
Know what you are looking for. The six classic human vital functions are blood pressure, pulse, temperature, breathing, height and weight.
Test your vital signs regularly. A simple blood test can test for possible problems. If your doctor doesn’t ask you to have blood tests, request one.
Talk to your doctor. If you have a wide variety of medications available, please consult your doctor. He / she can better advise which medication is right for you.
Regular exercise is good for the body, mind and soul. Here are some more ideas:
Vary your routine. Understand that not all exercises are created equal. For example, any exercise can help prevent dementia. However, aerobic exercise (swimming, walking, running, cycling, etc.) increases gray matter in the brain and triggers other beneficial changes. Varied exercises don’t turn into boring exercises either.
Choose less strenuous activities. Doing something can be better than doing nothing; However, doing too much can be risky for seniors. Walking and swimming are excellent exercises and are easy on older joints and muscles. Slowly start a new exercise program.
Think about the double task of the exercise. Regular exercise improves the health of the body, but it also reduces the risk of falling. Stronger muscles and more flexibility enable the senior to stand, balance, and walk more confidently.
Put an end to your coffee cup
According to a study by the National University of Singapore, filling your morning mugs with tea instead of coffee can reduce your risk of cognitive impairment. The researchers found that having a cup of tea a day reduced the risk of cognitive decline by 50 percent. Carriers of the APOE e4 gene, a genetic biomarker that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, can reduce the risk of cognitive impairment by up to 86 percent. Try these ideas:
Caffeine is found in both beverages and food. Is your loved one eating too much chocolate, ice cream and / or pudding? All of these foods contain extra caffeine.
Replace juice. Three of the best juices for seniors are plum, apple, and pear. These are rich in vitamins and nutrients and help reduce constipation.
Check your pain medication. Over-the-counter pain relievers (such as menstrual medicines and headache medicines) may contain caffeine. In this case, ask the pharmacist about other brands of reduced or decaffeinated caffeine.