Have you thought about your brain health lately? Throughout our lives, we are bombarded with tips to achieve optimal health, which are mainly focused on losing weight or certain foods to eat or avoid.
While this advice focuses on different areas of the body and may contain some useful advice, the brain isn’t usually a main concern. But as we age, cognitive decline and the development of Alzheimer’s or dementia can become a great fear.
Fortunately, there are ways to start moving toward optimal brain health immediately. Learn more about these positive habits from the experts leading the largest brain research initiative in the country: the Beach Cities Healthy Minds Initiative.
What is the Healthy Minds Initiative?
Drs. Dean and Ayesha Sherzai led a hybrid event at The Kensington Redondo Beach — with an in-person or virtual attendance option — to discuss the profound effects of lifestyle factors on the brain.
The doctors share their proactive approach to health, which includes tips to create and sustain healthy habits that will boost your brain. In understanding how our lifestyle impacts the brain, we can grow empowered to make conscious, educated health goals.
Drs. Dean and Ayesha, in collaboration with the Beach Cities Health District, are currently leading the largest community-based brain health research initiative in the country.
What causes Alzheimer’s disease?
Experts do not think there is a single cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, they believe it involves many factors, including lifestyle, environment, and genetics. They also have identified certain factors that increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, including:
- Overall health
- Increasing age
- Family history of Alzheimer’s
- Head injuries
- Poor heart health
Many of the risk factors are out of your control, such as age, family history, or genetics, but overall health has been determined as a promising link that we can control.
There is no fool-proof method to preventing Alzheimer’s since there is no single cause. However, adopting healthy habits and lifestyle choices will strengthen and protect your brain, as well as many other parts of your body.
Adopting healthy habits for optimal brain health
Although research is ongoing, the evidence surrounding certain methods to prevent or slow Alzheimer’s is strongly based on how they positively affect different areas of the brain and body.
Experts might not be able to say certain healthy habits can definitively prevent Alzheimer’s, but that doesn’t mean they should be taken lightly. The following methods are backed by promising research.
Current recommendations are 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, three to four days a week, but it’s important to discuss with your doctor the level of exercise that is right for you.
Exercise improves blood flow and memory, and enhances mood, learning, and thinking.
The healthiest diets for the brain aren’t fads meant to burn fat quickly — they are fresh foods rich in nutrients with minimal processing, sugar, and salt. Many experts point to the Mediterranean diet as a good example, which includes:
- Fresh vegetables and fruits
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
- Moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, and dairy
- Moderate amounts of red wine
- Red meat sparingly
Studies have shown that adopting the Mediterranean diet will keep the brain healthy and strong, and that even partially incorporating elements of it still is helpful.
So it’s not all or nothing — and even if you think this diet is impossible for you, you can still try to include more of these foods into your meals.
We know that sleep is important for our health and wellbeing, but it may be especially important in preventing Alzheimer’s. There is evidence that improved sleep is linked to reduced beta-amyloid plaque buildup in the brain, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Experts recommend getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night.
Keeping your brain active and challenged might help with brain function and promoting new cell growth.
Working on crossword or number puzzles, learning something new, reading, or playing memory video games can give your brain a boost and help it stay strong.
Connecting with friends and family has numerous benefits for the brain. Engaging in conversation and games with others will keep you mentally stimulated, and it also can reduce stress and depression.
Reducing stress is essential for optimal brain health, and will increase your overall health and well-being.
Expert memory care at The Kensington
The Kensington Redondo Beach offers exceptional memory care, intending to help residents and family members treasure the beautiful moments ahead while providing peaceful and safe surroundings. We have two memory care neighborhoods for the most customized levels of care — Connections for early to middle stage Alzheimer’s care and Haven for middle to late-stage Alzheimer’s care.
Our Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own. While our team is made up of trained medical professionals, they also are experts in providing loving, compassionate care that makes our community a home where your loved ones truly can age in place.
Contact us today to learn more about our memory care communities and the expert care we provide to residents.
Additional Recommended Reading:
- Brain Health for Preventing Alzheimer’s and Staying Active with Carol Hahn
- Navigate Caregiver Well-Being With Our Guide to Personal Wellness and Mental Health
- Coping with the Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or Dementia