*Originally published 12/18/19
We all think about blood pressure and cholesterol when we think about health, but how often do you think about the health of your brain? Because we can’t see it, we often don’t make it a focus- but we should! Our brain is involved in everything our body does, from breathing, to storing memories, to making decisions, it’s our most vital organ!
Did you know that Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise? It already affects 50% of people over age 85, and the number of people over 65 that have the disease is expected to double by 2050. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the US, and Alzheimer’s and other dementia’s cost the nation nearly $300 billion each year.
What’s really scary is that the affects of Alzheimer’s start 30 years before any symptoms arise. 30 years! That’s why it’s so important to start taking care of your brain today.
The best way to prevent Alzheimer’s is to decrease illnesses that increase risk, such as obesity, heart disease, sleep apnea, diabetes, and depression. Maintaining a healthy weight decreases the risk of all of these diseases, and it’s been shown that as weight increases, the size of your brain actually decreases. Your brain’s ability to think and reason also decreases as weight increases, making it more difficult to make good decisions in all aspects of your life. Dr. Daniel Amen, MD, a physician, psychologist and author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life says that when your brain works right, you work right, and when your brain has trouble, you have trouble in your life.
As we age, our brain function deteriorates, but the good news is, we can significantly slow down (and even reverse) the deterioration!
Here are a few things that help decelerate brain aging:
1. Protecting the brain from injury- playing a sport like football or soccer that subject you to multiple blows to the head is not ideal for your brain’s longevity.
2. Eating nutrient dense foods- did you know that your brain uses up 25% of the calories you eat in a day? It’s important to fuel your brain with the most nutritious foods possible. Blueberries, walnuts, and avocados have all been linked to brain health, among many other foods!
3. Get plenty of sleep- aim for 7-9 hours each night.
4. Exercise- this not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, but many studies have shown improved cognitive function in people who exercise.
5. Learn new things- listen to a podcast about something you don’t know much about, take an online class, learn to play an instrument, etc. There are so many ways to keep your brain sharp!
6. Be social- listening and formulating responses while you’re spending time with friends stimulates different parts of your brain, and as an added bonus, being social reduces your risk for depression.
Now that you know what to do to keep your brain healthy, there’s no time to waste! Make changes now to avoid becoming a victim of Alzheimer’s later in your life.
If you’re interested in how a health coach can help you improve your brain and overall health, schedule your free initial consultation today!