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Keeping Your Brain Fit-Avoid Dementia

 

While we may not be able to completely avoid Alzheimer’s Disease there are more studies show that it is possible to push back the clock. More time doing what you love and living your life independently. I’m up for that. How about you? So we looking into some of the ways that you can keep your brain fit longer.

 

1.Exercise

Keeping Your Brain Fit- Avoid DementiaI know. You may not want to hear this. But exercise has been shown to increase hippocampal volume. And since the hippocampus is where Alzheimer’s starts this is a big plus.  According to studies, just 20 minutes a day of aerobic exercise can benefit. You can even break the time down into  2 or three sessions. And furthermore, if you do not like going to the gym it’s okay. A walk in your neighborhood will also give you benefits.

2.Get a Handle on Your Stress

When under stress our body produces higher levels of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol (sometimes referred to as the stress hormone) has been shown to damage and even kill the cells in your hippocampus. Remember, this is where Alzheimer’s begins.

The problem is not the acute or major events in our life. It’s the chronic stress that seems to cause the problem. This is probably why so many family caregivers have a higher risk of developing dementia. That day in and day out stress, that never seems to go away. After a while, our body begins to produce more of this hormone all the time. It can affect our weight, our heart and yes, our brain also.

Keeping Brain Fit- Avoid dementia

Our body was designed to experience stressful conditions with a flight or fight method. In other words, if a predator was going towards us we would either stay and fight and run like the dickens to get away. But if you are caring for a loved one your predator (the thing that causes you to feel stressed) is not something you can fight or run away from. And furthermore, it is probably there every day. The constant worry, the grief and the endless list of what has to be done.

So What Can You Do?

3.Add Heart/Brain Healthy Foods Into Your Diet

A daily walk outside may be enough to relax and calm your nerves. But you may also try yoga or Tai Chi. Both have been shown to lower your stress levels. Can’t get away to take a class? No problem. There are some great yoga and Tai chi classes happening online now. The world has changed.  Practicing meditation

When people think about diets they often think about what they cannot eat. But the truth is if you focus on the foods that support both your heart and your brain you will find you both feel and think better.

Berries

Keeping Brain Fit- Avoid dementia

Berries are one of the top foods on this list Cherries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. Blueberries seem to top the list! This tiny fruit can pack a powerful punch. Blueberries are high in Antioxidants including vitamin C and vitamin K and fiber. And their high levels of gallic acid are known to protect our brains from stress and degeneration. Add them to cereal, smoothies, salads or just eat them plain. But incorporate these little blue gems into your daily diet if you can.

Avocado

It may be green but it is considered a fruit. This fruit is one of the healthiest you can consume. It is versatile also. Avocado can replace oil in a number of different recipes, including brownies.

High in Fat

Yes, they are high in fat. But it is the healthy kind, monosaturated fat. This fat is known to keep your blood levels steady and your skin glowing. Because of the Vitamin K and folate, avocados may help protect you from blood clots in the brain. Stroke prevention can keep you from developing vascular dementia.

Beets

A root vegetable you should really try, even if you hated them as a child. This vegetable can reduce inflammation in the body. And that includes the brain.  Furthermore, the natural nitrates in beets actually boost blood flow to the brain, helping with mental performance. Try beets roasted or even juice them.

Other foods to add to your heart/brain healthy diet include walnuts, coconut oil, turmeric, salmon, rosemary, green leafy vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, egg yolks, celery, broccoli, bone broth and finally dark chocolate. Make sure the chocolate you but is at least 70% dark. It may take a little getting used to the darker chocolate. However, most people report that once they do, they never want mild chocolate again.

4.Learn Something New

Use it or lose it! Just like any muscle in our body the brain needs to be used often. Learning a new language may seem daunting but it could stave off dementia. Other ideas you might try.

Play word games.

Take a cooking class (try cooking a new type of cuisine)

Learn a new sport (yoga, tai chi, golf, tennis)

Learn to play a musical instrument

Take up a new hobby

Lone Star College offers the Academy for Lifelong Learning. Anyone over the age of 50 is invited to participate. There are numerous classes you can join. Most are low or no cost. All campus locations including The Woodlands and Tomball offer a variety of classes.

5.Get Connected

Communicating with Dementia-Touch

Social interactions are so important. After all, we are social beings. Our brains are hardwired to connect with other people. Join groups. Get involved with your church or a non-profit organization. Finding a way to give back can help you feel happier and enjoy life more.

You can even join online groups. Connect with people that you have something in common with. There are groups for just about everything. Join in the conversation. You may even find several online members live in your area and would like to meet for coffee or lunch.

The YMCA has an exercise program specifically for seniors.  Often the seniors get together after the classes to have lunch or just visit. A lot of people report having made some really good friends at the YMCA. And the great thing is you are all interested in improving your health. As such you can help to support one another.

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