There isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s (yet), but the research seems to be getting closer. In the meantime, here’s how to protect and nurture that so-called gray matter. Bear in mind: you don’t have to be over 60 to be at risk for brain diseases or disorders. There are rare cases of Alzheimer’s that can surface in young children, teens and twenty-somethings. Also, what you do to your brain and body now will have an impact later. Conversely, it’s not too late to start caring about your cerebrum.
Try these tips:
- Tip #1: Don’t eat junk food (often). Doing away with chips or chocolate altogether is not a guaranteed route to pristine brain health, so you may as well enjoy a splurge here and there. However, the “garbage in, garbage out” rule from the early computer days applies here. If you eat junk, you feel like junk, and your brain won’t be able to function at an optimal level. Feed your brain with the forgetfulness-fighting foods mentioned in these posts:
- Tip #2: Parlez vous francais? Learning another language, be it French, Vietnamese or Latin, is one of the best ways to keep your brain fit. Why? It exercises a different — and rarely used — part of your brain. Research findings suggest that Learning Another Language ‘Could Protect Against Dementia’. I couldn’t think of a better reason to start learning a new language ASAP. These resources will help you get started:
- Tip #3: Do sit-ups. Stay physically active in a fun and habit-forming way. Whether that’s Zumba, kickboxing, walking with friends, biking, or jump-roping, do it and stick to it. And we all know that exercise will be good for more than just your brain health. You’ll sleep better (which is also important for memory preservation), feel better about yourself, and have more energy to learn a new language or do the other mental push-ups required for keeping your brain sharp. Examples of mental push-ups include crossword puzzles, Sudoku puzzles, brainteasers, jigsaw puzzles, memorization exercises, picking up a new hobby, and strategy games, per this article from HelpGuide.org. (And speaking of habits, kick the bad ones, like smoking!)
- Tip #4: Change your routine. Yes, I know I just said stick with a regular exercise routine, but this is different. This is driving a different way to work, or having your usual Monday night meal on a Wednesday, or “eat[ing] with your non-dominant hand.” Essentially, “Vary your habits regularly to create new brain pathways,” says the afore-mentioned HelpGuide.org article on Alzheimer’s & Dementia Prevention.
- Tip #5: Make and keep lots of friends, not enemies. Social engagement and interaction is vital for preventing depression and loneliness too. Keep your brain in tip-top shape by keeping in touch with friends and family near and far, and by making new friends of all ages, following the spirit of tip #4. Make new friends who will challenge your ideas and worldviews. Make friends with people who will teach you new things. Make new friends who will encourage you to try new things. Read Bikers, Grown-Up Grandchildren, and the Value of Intergenerational Contact to learn more about the life enrichment and brain health boost that intergenerational relationships afford.