Most medical issues that we face today are mostly because of the lifestyle changes humans have undergone over the years. With advancements in technology and research, a shift of lifestyle can be observed. We have moved from eating fresh produce and green vegetables to processed frozen foods. Convenience and speed have taken precedence over natural and healthy eating.
“What is good for your heart is good for your brain too”- spokesperson of Alzheimer’s society.
Academic studies and research conducted by the University of Edinburgh suggest that three-quarters of all cognitive impairments, including memory loss, are a result of our lifestyle. Mild alterations in our way of living and eating habits can have a profound impact on our body and brain health. Your brain benefits along with your heart when you shift towards a healthier lifestyle.
Even with all the advancements in the field of medical sciences, doctors and neurologists have yet to find a cure for dementia once it develops. However many research and studies on dementia have enabled us to adopt ways that help in reducing its risks. Genetic and environmental factors are outside our control, but by adopting some easy lifestyle changes, we can delay the onset of dementia. The sooner we start, the more benefits we reap later in life.
Here are 7 ways you can keep dementia at bay:
- Indulge in brain exercises
Whenever we hear the word exercise, we automatically associate it with physical health. However, mental health is equally important. Aging is inevitable and so are all the age-related problems. But, the intensity of these problems is in your control. By keeping your mind active and indulging in brain-stimulating activities, you can prevent the onset of dementia. By keeping your brain active and challenged, your thinking skills are less likely to decline as you grow old.
Here is a list of activities that you can perform to keep your brain from rusting away:
- Learn a new language or a musical instrument.
- Work on puzzles and solve crosswords
- Learn something new
- Play memory games
- Maintain a healthy diet
Cognitive issues can also be avoided by changing the type of food you consume. It is advised that you follow a diet constituting fruits, vegetables, and cereals. Moderate amount of oily fish and olive oil should also be consumed, while sugar and saturated fats should be avoided. High antioxidant content in fruits and vegetables protects the brain from cell damage, whereas Omega 3 and vitamins found in fish are known to enhance memory in adults.
Regular physical workout in middle-aged or older adults also helps in the prevention of dementia. It keeps your heart healthy which is crucial for the brain to stay fit. Proper flow of blood to the brain will nourish brain cells and protect them from damage. Studies also show that factors which cause strokes are also responsible for dementia, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Aim for higher education
Studies suggest that people who opted to go for higher education or took courses in later years of life were less likely to get dementia as compared to those who completed their studies earlier. With more cognitive exercise, it takes longer to experience the effects of dementia once the decline begins. Learning something new increases the mind’s ability to fight off early signs of dementia.
- Stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to brain damage and increase the risk of developing dementia. Alcohol consumption over an extended period of time affects brain tissues which consequently impacts the transmission of signals in various regions of the brain.
Alternatively, smoking narrows down the blood vessels in the human body which reduces the amount of blood flowing in and out of the brain. Less blood flow means that reduced nutrition and oxygen is reaching the brain. Additionally, smoking also increases the risk of cardiovascular and lung diseases. Not everyone who smokes will get dementia, but it undoubtedly increases the risk. Thus, you need to stop smoking as early as possible to prevent it. Not only will you be healthier physically but you will also be mentally stable as you grow old.
- Online testing
Early intervention is crucial to delay or prevent the signs of dementia. Once the cognitive decline begins, unfortunately, there is nothing much you can do to slow down the process. Many cognitive functioning tests are available online to see if you or any of your loved one is showing dementia symptoms. Some form of memory loss is inevitable in old age, but if the intensity and frequency of forgetfulness becomes alarming, it is a good idea to undergo any of the online tests available.
The results of these tests enable a doctor to create a diagnosis plan as per your needs.
- Blood pressure and cholesterol levels
High blood pressure and cholesterol increases the risk of a stroke. A stroke damages brain cells which in turn lead to dementia or other cognitive ailments. Stroke is a significant contributor of dementia among its many causes.
Lifestyle changes are beneficial for your physical as well as your mental health. The sooner you start opting for healthier alternatives, the better off you will be as you grow old