10 Ways to Love Your Brain

Alzheimer’s disease isn’t an easy topic. And while the jury’s still out on much of the disease’s intricacies, growing evidence shows there are certain healthy habits that can reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it’s never too early or too late to incorporate and combine healthy habits to achieve maximum benefit for the brain and body. Here are their top 10 tips:

1. Challenge your mind. Be curious! Put your brain to work and do something that is new for you. Learn a new skill. Try something artistic. Challenging your mind may have short- and long-term benefits for your brain.

2. Stay in school. Education reduces the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Encourage youth to stay in school and pursue the highest level of training possible. Continue your own education by taking a class at a local library or college, or online.

3. Get moving. Engage in regular exercise. This includes activities that raise your heart rate and increase blood flow to the brain and body. Find ways to build more movement into your day — walking, dancing, gardening — whatever works for you.

4. Protect your head. Help prevent an injury to your head. Wear a helmet for activities like biking, and wear a seatbelt. Protect yourself while playing sports. Do what you can to prevent falls, especially for older adults.

5. Be smoke-free. Quitting smoking can lower the risk of cognitive decline back to levels similar to those who have not smoked. It’s never too late to stop.

6. Control your blood pressure. Medications can help lower high blood pressure. And healthy habits like eating right and physical activity can help, too. Work with a health care provider to control your blood pressure.

7. Manage diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or controlled by eating healthier, increasing physical activity and taking medication, if necessary.

8. Eat right. Eating healthier foods can help reduce your risk of cognitive decline. This includes more vegetables and leaner meats/proteins, along with foods that are less processed and lower in fat. Choose healthier meals and snacks that you enjoy and are available to you.

9. Maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your health care provider about the weight that is healthy for you. Other healthy habits on this list — eating right, exercising and sleeping well — can help with maintaining a healthy weight.

10. Sleep well. Good quality sleep is important for brain health. Stay off screens before bed and make your sleep space as comfortable as possible. Do all you can to minimize disruptions. If you have any sleep-related problems, such as sleep apnea, talk to a health care provider.

To learn more about bettering your cognitive health, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website

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