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Store shelves are drowning is books and magazines dedicated to the care and maintenance of your body. Your abs, your thighs – even your heart – get special attention. But what about your mind?
Why does it seem like the brain, your most important part, is left to fend for itself? Even if there are no bookshelves dedicated to it, you can feed and improve your brain just like any other body part, with more important, more life-altering results.
One of the greatest fears and dangers of growing older is Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that is progressive and irreversible. It changes behavior, erases personality and impairs memory and thinking, by causing the brain to develop abnormal protein deposits and tangle nerve fibers that damage brain cells.
The chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease are partly genetic, but current research is uncovering several lifestyle and dietary factors that also play a role. In other words, you can prevent brain drain with your eating and exercise decisions.
Check out the following health tips to help maintain your brain power:
1. Be a Mover and Shaker
Daily physical activity can lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, bathing it with vital nutrients and oxygen. Exercise also helps control cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and weight. All of these increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Work that heart muscle, for 30 minutes daily if possible, by walking, swimming, biking, golfing, or hiking.
2. Be a Thinker
Keeping the mind active can help lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Stimulate your brain with board games, cards and puzzles. Read a book, magazine or newspaper. Sing a song, play an instrument or learn a new language. These brain-challenging activities increase the blood flow, establish more connections between the brain cells and stimulate brain cell growth.
3. Go Fishing
Eating fish and other food sources high in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce one’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are important components of brain cells and may help to reduce inflammation of the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids also help to protect arteries and improve blood flow to the brain. So go fishing for some salmon, sardines, tuna, shrimp, shellfish, walnuts, olives, olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil, flaxseed, and flaxseed oil…all excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Fat Attack
Saturated fat and trans fatty acids may increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. These unhealthy fats are found in high-fat meats, high-fat dairy products, many margarines and other processed foods. They promote the buildup of the Low Density Level Lipoproteins (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol. This may cause a narrowing of the arteries, reduce blood flow to the brain, and cause inflammation.