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.

5. B-Vitamins
Preliminary research is showing a connection between folate, vitamin B-12, and vitamin B-6 intake and Alzheimer’s disease. It appears that people with Alzheimer’s disease have higher levels of homocysteine (a body chemical that causes arteries to clog) in their blood. Although homocysteine levels naturally increase with age, high levels are also due to a diet low in folate, vitamin B-12 and vitamin B-6. Until more is uncovered about this chemical’s effect on the brain, eat a diet high in the B-vitamins. For vitamin B-12, reach for lean meats, fish, chicken, milk and cheese. For vitamin B-6 and folate, include more dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and collard greens, broccoli, oranges, orange juice, lima beans, asparagus, whole grains, and fortified grain products.

6. Antioxidants
The brain can be damaged by free radicals in the body and their oxidation effect. So eating a diet high in antioxidants (vitamin E and vitamin C) can help lower the risk of these harmful effects and protect the brain. Dietary sources of vitamin E include whole grains, nuts, seeds, milk, egg yolks, wheat germ, and vegetable oils. Vitamin C sources include citrus fruits, kiwi, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes, and peppers.

7. A Boost with Blueberries
Blueberries contain compounds that can improve short-term memory, navigational skills, balance and coordination. Current research indicates that blueberries can boost weakened neuron signals. Blueberries contain this powerful punch whether fresh, frozen or dried. Enjoy them by the handful, add them to your cereal, muffins, and pancakes, or whip up a blueberry-yogurt smoothie.

8. Stop Smoking
Smokers are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as non-smokers. Smoking decreases blood flow to the brain, starving it of oxygen and nutrients. The best defense is to stop smoking, but beta-carotene and flavonoids found in foods may help to offset the effects of smoking to some degree. If you continue to smoke, add more colorful fruits and veggies to your diet. Eat more kale, carrots, broccoli, spinach, cranberries, green and black tea, and legumes.

9. Healthy Heart
High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease and diabetes may also increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Once again, anytime blood vessels are damaged, the blood supply to the brain can be affected. It is important to know your numbers. Monitor your blood pressure reading, lipid profile tests, and blood glucose tests. See your physician regularly. Make appropriate dietary, lifestyle, and medication changes that are necessary to keep your body at peak performance.

10. Stress
Studies have shown that chronic, excessive stress may alter the brain structure. This makes the brain more susceptible to damage by free radicals in the body and can result in neuron damage. To manage stress, try practicing meditation, muscle relaxation, yoga, or T’ai chi. Talk to a mental health professional, or sign up for a stress management class.

11. Ginkgo Biloba
In the United States, Ginkgo Biloba is sold as a dietary supplement for memory enhancement. It is thought to protect the brain by reducing oxidation damage to the cells. Research has not shown Ginkgo Biloba to protect against Alzheimer’s disease, but it may help with very mild to moderate dementia. People with severe dementia showed no improvement when given Ginkgo Biloba. Most of the studies used between 120 milligrams to 240 milligrams daily. Discuss usage with your physician.

12. Weighty Issues
People are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease when a Body Mass Index of 20-27 is maintained.

Weight change is very common with those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease:

  • In the early stages of the disease, some gain more than 5% of their initial body weight.
  • In the later stages, weight loss of 5%-10% is common. The risk of excessive weight loss increases with the severity of the disease.

13. Spice Up Your Life
The yellow spice turmeric may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This spice is used in Indian cuisine and is a major ingredient in curry powder. Sprinkle on potato soup, chicken soup, omelets, chicken entrees, veal, and cream sauces.


This is the only brain you’ve got. With some simple maintenance, it can perform as well as your body does for years to come.


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Member Comments

  • CRAZYCOUTER
    Disappointed in another article that bashes saturated fat. Yes, trans fats are bad, very bad as well as vegetable oils (due to processing they can have .56 to 4.2 grams of trans fats in them). Read Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Dr Mary Enig (Biochemist who has studied fats for years) and Sally Fallon (Weston Price Foundation).
  • BRAINFUNCTION
    Great article. thank you,
  • KANAVEL
    Good information.
  • TURNDAPAGE
    Great Article very informative I took many notes. Let you all know how it goes.
  • ITSADOMINICAN
  • Great article and great info. Something to save and go back and read.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • Great article.. will be doing all the above
  • 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.
  • GOSPELCLOWN
    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.
  • 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.

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.

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