Time to show your brain some love

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We know the importance of showing our heart some love.  But doesn’t our brain deserve the same?  All of us with a brain are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and that’s why to educate people on protecting their brain, June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.  Alzheimer’s is the only leading cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.

To better understand Alzheimer’s disease here are some quick facts from alz.org:

·      Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease

·      Alzheimer’s disease kills nerve cells and tissue in the brain, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think and plan.

·      As the disease advances, the brain shrinks dramatically due to cell death.  Individuals lose their ability to communicate, recognize family and friends, and care for themselves.

·      Everyone who has a brain is at risk to develop Alzheimer’s.

·      Currently, there is no way to prevent, cure, or even slow the disease.

·      Today, 5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, including an estimated 200,000 under the age of 65.  By 2050, up to 16 million will have the disease.

There are many ways we can show our brain the love it deserves.  Each and every day, we need to do what we can to protect and preserve brain health to minimize any possibility of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.  By practicing these tips, we are taking the necessary steps to improving brain health.  Here’s how:

·      Engage in regular exercise – Consistent cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body is a perfect way to nourish your brain.  Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.

·      Don’t smoke – Evidence shows that smoking increases the risk of cognitive decline.  Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have never smoked.

·      Protect your head – Any kind of a brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia.  Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bicycle or motorcycle and take steps to prevent falls.

·      Get adequate sleep – Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.

·      Be a social butterfly – Staying socially engaged may support brain health.  Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you.  Find ways to be part of your local community – volunteer, join a local choir, attend religious services or help at an afterschool program.  Or, spend time and activities with family and friends.

·      Challenge your mind – Do an activity you have never done before to stimulate the brain.  If you’ve never tried being artistic, do so.  Play a game you’ve never done before, one that makes you think strategically.  Challenging your mind may have short and long-term benefits for your brain.

·      Be a lifelong learner – Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your cognitive decline and dementia.  For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.

·      Take care of your heart – Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, negatively impact your cognitive health.  By taking care of your heart, you’re also taking care of your brain.

·      Fuel up on healthy foods – Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on a diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets that include eating healthy fats, fish, beans, whole grains, low-fat dairy while limiting red and processed meat, may contribute to risk reduction.