We talk a lot about what to do after a diagnosis of dementia, but what can we all do to keep our brains as healthy as possible now? Our sister chapter – Central & North Florida Alzheimer’s Association – have worked with a local health foundation to put together this great website about brain health – complete with news, articles and even brain games! Check out more on their website by clicking HERE.
Here are their top 6 Brain Commandments:
1. Eat smart.
The brain is a marvelous machine, and it needs the right fuel to run most efficiently. That means seeking out foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, ALA and other healthy fats, choline, and antioxidants, which help power the brain to build new connections and prevent declining cognitive abilities as we age. Learn more about how and why to follow a brain-healthy diet.
2. Work out.
Regular aerobic exercise — no matter when in your life you start it — has proven brain-boosting benefits. Exercise increases blood flow, which means more oxygen and nourishment gets to the brain. It helps relieve anxiety and improves mood, and can even make you smarter by creating new and better connected brain cells. Learn more about how working your muscles works your brain too.
3. Chill out.
When you’re stressed — whether momentarily, as by a loud noise, or long term, as by a difficult life situation — your brain and body focus on survival. While the occasional adrenaline rush helps build new neural pathways, chronic stress can lead to brain shrinkage, negatively affecting both memory and mood. Learn more about relaxing your way to a really healthy brain.
4. Hang out.
Research shows that seniors with rich social networks are much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia than their less-connected peers, even when they’ve shown the physical beginnings of the disease. Exactly why is a still a mystery, though a large group of friends is associated with a larger amygdala, a part of the brain that is responsible for emotional processing and memory storage. So go make some friends!Learn more about how social butterflies build stronger brains.
5. Challenge yourself.
Learning something new is more than a matter of exercising the brain you’ve got — it actually means building more brain. As we exercise our mental facilities, the brain encodes that information by making new connections between neurons. As these new connections are used again and again, the neurons become one unit dedicated to working quickly and efficiently. The more you learn, the better you get at learning. Learn more about your brain’s love affair with learning.
6. Find your purpose.
All brains collect plaques and tangles as they age, but those don’t always manifest as disease. Interestingly, people who have some driving purpose in life — whether it’s dedication to a cause, volunteerism, a hobby, or art — have less cognitive impairment than those that don’t, even when their brains show similar patterns of wear and tear. Perhaps it’s the power of positive thinking, or the brain’s way of reaching a defined goal, but clarity of purpose seems to keep us thinking more clearly. Learn more about living with purpose.
Thanks again to the Central & North Florida Chapter for their assistance in putting this together. The link to their BrainUP page is: http://www.brainupfl.org/.