Brain Booster #1: Move!
Get moving! An active life style can help clear your brain of a protein fragment called amyloid, which is believed to accumulate in and “gunk up” the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. “There’s no drug available that can lower amyloid,” says Dr. Isaacson. “The only thing we know that can do it is exercise.”
Active people have a 35 percent lower risk of cognitive decline than sedentary ones.
So get moving! Walk; Aim for at least 20 to 30 minutes of purposeful activity most days of the week (that’s the stuff that gets your heart rate up a bit) plus two short sessions of resistance training—squats, lunges, and the like—per week.
Brain Booster #2: Challenge your mind
Research continuously shows that to lower your risk of dementia is to challenge your brain so it becomes more flexible. That doesn’t mean solving Sudoku; it means doing new activities to continually work different parts of your brain in order to build connections between them.
When you’re scrambling to remember a name, for instance, and your mind hits a “roadblock” of nonfunctioning nerve cells, you’ll come up with nothing. But if there are available detours, your brain will try them until it finds the name you’re looking for.
It’s hard to fire up your brain with new things when you’re just trying to get through the same daily rush-rush routine. Make it a priority to try out different activities.
Brain Booster #3: Sleep!
I know everyone is happy to hear this one. Get the much needed sleep your body deserves. Cheat on sleep, and you rob your mind of its potential.
Reframe sleep as a priority and a must-do, not as a weakness. To help yourself snooze, pay attention to what experts call sleep hygiene—in other words, bias your bedroom toward your getting good sleep. And stay off digital screens for at least a half hour to an hour before bed; the blue light they emit keeps you from producing melatonin, a sleepiness hormone that rises in your body at night.
Brain Booster #4: Eat smarter
While there’s no single food that can prevent or cure cognitive impairment, an overall healthy eating pattern can help.
She recommends eating more of these: antioxidant-rich berries, vegetables (especially leafy greens), fish (for its omega-3 fatty acids, which likely make it easier for the brain’s nerve cells to communicate with one another), and whole grains.
The foods to cut down on: those with saturated and trans fats, both of which are believed to damage your cardiovascular system and thus your brain health. That means less red meat, butter, margarine, pastries and other sweets, and fried or fast foods. In Morris’s research, she saw that older people who stuck to this style of eating over five years lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s by 35 to 53 percent. The longer people stayed on the diet, the more their odds improved.