There are lifestyle habits you can adopt to maintain or improve your health as you age. These habits, spanning four categories — physical health and exercise, diet and nutrition, cognitive activity, and social engagement — can help keep your body and brain healthy and potentially reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Research suggests that a combination of these good habits may have a greater benefit in maintaining or improving brain health than any single activity.
Embrace lifestyle habits that improve your overall health; it’s never too early or too late to make changes to achieve a healthier lifestyle.
Tips for taking care of your health:
- Visit your doctor regularly.
- Get your “numbers” checked, including weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
- If you have diabetes, manage it as recommended by your physician.
- Stop smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
- Take action to minimize stress. Studies have found that regular physical activity decreases stress, increases your ability to manage stress and leads to better mood overall.
- Get enough sleep. Inadequate sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea can result in problems with memory and thinking.
- Avoid excess alcohol.
- Seek professional assistance to address anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns.
Exercise/Physical Activity and the Brain
- Exercise and other types of physical activity have many benefits (mood, stress relief, sleep improvement, to name a few). Studies show that they are good for our hearts, waistlines, and ability to carry out everyday activities, and may help reduce age-related cognitive decline.
- Researchers have also found that exercise raises the level of a nerve growth factor (a protein key to brain health) in an area of the brain that is important to memory and learning.
- Exercise can stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain old network connections and make new ones that are vital to healthy cognition.
Why diet matters
- A number of studies suggest that eating certain foods may help keep the brain healthy, while others can be detrimental to cognitive health. A diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and is low in added sugar can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Our well-balanced menus are a perfect way to ensure you’re giving your body and brain the right fuel.
- A diet rich in vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, is associated with a reduced rate of cognitive decline.
- Foods such as saturated fats and refined carbohydrates (white sugar, for example), may pose a problem. Diets that have a high amount of these foods may lead to increased cognitive decline, as well as many other chronic diseases.
- Some scientists have focused on DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid found in salmon and certain other fish. Although a clinical trial of DHA showed no impact on people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, it is possible that DHA supplements could be effective if started before cognitive symptoms appear. Our essential fatty acid (EFA) supplements are packed with high quality DHA.