Dementia describes a wide set of symptoms associated with a decline in memory and other cognitive abilities severe enough to affect your ability to perform daily activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, but several other types of dementia also exist. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help prevent the development of dementia as you get older.
Stimulate Your Brain: People who challenge their brains and continue to learn things throughout life are less likely to develop dementia. Learn a new language, musical instrument, or hobby. Playing strategy games and doing puzzles are also great ways to stimulate your brain. Varying your habits regularly creates new brain pathways. Try eating with your non-dominant hand or taking a different route on your way home from the store or work.
Eat a Mediterranean Diet: Many epidemiological studies indicate that eating a Mediterranean diet dramatically reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Eating plenty of vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fresh fish, healthy fruits, olive oil, and properly raised meat, as well as avoiding packaged foods are some of the major components of a Mediterranean diet. The diet also calls for utilizing a wide variety of herbs and spices and avoiding refined salt to season food.
Reduce Stress: Chronic or severe stress has been shown to shrink the hippocampus, an area in the brain that plays a part in memory. Doing some simple things can help minimize stress’ effect on the brain. Deep breathing, laughing, and scheduling relaxing activities every day are great ways to combat stress. Some relaxing activities you can do include taking a walk, reading a book, spending time with a beloved pet, yoga, and taking a relaxing bath. No matter what your chosen activity, be sure to schedule time for it every day.
Get Plenty of Vitamin K2: Vitamin K2 plays an important role in anti-aging and may help prevent dementia. Vitamin K2 (menaquinone-7) is not present in many multivitamins, so you may need to take a separate vitamin K2 supplement in order to reap its benefits. Alternatively, you can consume more foods containing vitamin K2. Good sources of vitamin K include brussels sprouts, kale, prunes, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and scallions.
Stop Smoking: A meta-study discovered that smokers over the age of 65 had a significantly higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who had never smoked. The brain’s circulation improves when someone who smokes stops smoking. If you want to stop smoking, you can talk with your doctor about over-the-counter and prescription products and medications that can help you achieve your goal.
Stay Social: Research has shown that the more socially connected someone is, the better he or she does on memory and cognition tests, Additionally, studies indicate that staying socially active may help protect you from dementia. You don’t necessarily need to be a social butterfly, but it is important to maintain a social life as you age. Some great ways to socialize with others include volunteering, scheduling a weekly get-together with a friend, visiting your local senior center, talking with a friend on the phone, joining a group or club, taking a class, and talking with your neighbors.
Eat More Fruit: A study indicates that fruit containing the compound fiestin may have Alzheimer’s fighting properties. Fruits containing fiestin include apples, strawberries, mangoes, blueberries, kiwis, and persimmons. Just be careful that you don’t eat so much fruit that your blood sugar rises – do remember that fruit is just sugar in disguise, so use it carefully.
Eat More Fish: Studies indicate that the DHA found in omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent dementia by reducing beta-amyloid plaques. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include cold-water fish, such as tuna, trout, mackerel, salmon, and sardines. Alternatively, you can take a highly purified fish oil supplement.
Exercise: Studies indicate that regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Research suggests that exercise helps protect you against Alzheimer’s by stimulating your brain’s ability to make new connections and maintain old ones. Additionally, research shows that exercise can slow deterioration in people who have already developed dementia. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, and try to incorporate both strength training and cardio exercise into your workouts. The higher your intensity, the better the circulation to your brain! Please push those high intensity pulses during your cardio workouts!
Get Quality Sleep: Research suggests that poor sleep may increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. You can encourage quality sleep by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, reserving your bedroom for sleep and sex, and banning computers and television from your bedroom. Do something relaxing, such as taking a hot bath, writing in your journal, or reading a book before you try to sleep. Many people fear losing their cognitive abilities as they age. Taking these simple steps can help you reduce your risk of developing dementia.