Health & Wellness Articles

13 Ways to Maintain Your Brain

Feed Your Mind to Prevent Disease

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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.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • ITSADOMINICAN
    Great Article! - 11/13/2013 11:59:38 PM
  • Great article and great info. Something to save and go back and read. - 7/4/2013 9:56:07 AM
  • The best way to treat Alzheimers is early detection. Don't take anything the person says or does personally for they are not responsible for their actions with this horrific disease. It robs people and families of their lives. I once was told by my grandparents that your only grown up once and twice a child. I really never knew what they meant, until I had the cance to deal with people with Alzheimers. One of them being my father in law, whom we lost at age 63 to the disease and diabetes. My children didn't fully understand what was happening to their grandfather, but I am happy to say that it was one of their happiest times with him. He would get down in the floor and play board games with them, or trucks and race the little box cars and their faces would light up. It just broke my heart to have to explain to them why he passed away. Sometimes the anger canbe a side effect of the medication if it isn't adjusted right. Talk to the doctor. Not all Alzheimers patients can be cared for at home by family. So please don't feel guity if you have to have them go live in an adult living facility. But I do urge you to visit often and check their care as you can never be to careful to whom you leave a loved ones care. As the healthcare system is so over burden.
    I hope this helps you.
    Love Always Your Sister in Christ Jill - 12/18/2012 10:56:58 AM
  • Alzheimers wow this is what my dad has I still do not know how to help him. I been reading and studying on it and he is becoming just like a child. He blames me for things and it hurts my feelings because I am always helping him out. - 12/12/2012 11:14:24 PM
  • I had to reread this as my Dad died of this and his Dad also had dementia. Not a good prognosis but I do have better genetics on my Mom's side. I don't intend to take this lying down - if I have to go down with this horrid disease it WILL have marks on ITSELF from my fighting it with my last breath. The only thing I did not understand was the stat about weight gain/ loss . My Dad lost a considerable amount of weight after retiring but PRIOR to getting this disease and he did not gain it back to the best of my knowledge or is he just atypical? - 5/10/2012 10:49:02 PM
  • Great article.. will be doing all the above - 5/10/2012 5:33:58 PM
  • ORGANIC811LFRV
    Alzeimers as well as most diseases are totally reversable with rest, joyful activity, a raw food diet that is low in fat and high in fruits. Leafy greens are natures healing product. - 3/4/2012 2:56:52 PM
  • I like that getting moving has been found out to be so helpful. This week I learned that keeping your hearing acute is beneficial to keeping the brain engaged and healthy. - 3/4/2012 2:50:25 PM
  • Very informative article--wish some of my friends had decided to give up smoking and learn to relax before they died so early. Good nutrition and exercise has never been a problem in my group (I am 74 years old), but a certain "need to achieve like the Jones's" has been an issue. The first half of our lives we seem to have been accumulating things and now we are handing those very things off as we try to organize and simplify. My efforts to exercise and find younger friends to replace those lost will perhaps help my brain, too.
    - 3/4/2012 9:46:56 AM
  • I kept thinking a bout tumeric as I had heard about it - is there enough of it in Mustard to make a difference?? i used to do Brain age didn't like it. - 2/4/2012 12:13:53 AM
  • Great information that can easily be incorporated into daily life. - 1/27/2012 9:14:50 AM
  • Thanks so much for this information. I will put these thins into practice, both to help myself and my wonderful husband.
    - 12/16/2011 7:34:17 PM
  • My mom is 83 and still active and alert. She has the typical memory issues that come with advanced age, but then again, so do I (and I'm not yet 40!). Having fibromyalgia - and the "fog" that goes with it - has made me more aware of what I need to do to protect my brain. I've been playing games on http://lumosity.c
    om for the past month and have really seen the benefits - especially with memory and attention. Now, I'm using the nutrition tracker to track my intake of B-12, which this article mentions can be a protective factor for the brain. After having an Indian roommate and developing a tolerance for Indian foods, I now see that adding more turmeric to my diet might be another step in the right direction. I guess the bottom line here is that it's important to be proactive *before* problems arise - not going overboard and doing everything all at once, but finding ways to fit a couple of extra brain-building tips into one's normal lifestyle. - 5/31/2011 7:41:37 AM
  • This is good but I just wonder how often I need to do these things. Like how often do I need to eat blueberries to get the full benefits? - 1/4/2011 2:47:04 PM
  • I aslo want to say I am going to fight this to my dying breath. I do Mensa puzzles and try to do calculus from college (I am an engineering technologist). I also heard of a study of nuns that were autopsied and were found to have had physical signs of alzheimers but NO outward manifestations while they were alive. Perhaps some help from ABOVE? - 12/9/2010 9:11:47 PM

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