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Brain Health and Lifestyle Choices

Can Your Lifestyle Make a Difference in Brain Health? Brain-health Literacy: A strategy to inspire brain-healthy lifestyles Jesse Rossman, PhD Cornelia Lenherr, MD As we are all aging, this important study on brain health is worth reviewing and taking to heart. I will paraphrase and review for you the findings. “It is now generally acknowledged that the roots of neurodegeneration — that is deterioration in the brain’s nerve and function and structure— begin at least 20-30 years before dementia are noticeable”. While no cure exists, intervention can profoundly affect degeneration and impairment. While Age, genetics and family history are well identified as AD factors, the following play a role in progression. * physical activity * diet * sleep * social support * stress * cognitive stimulation * conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and head injury Diet and nutrition: Diets consisting of fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish and unsaturated fats have shown to have cognitive benefits. Your diet should focus on whole foods and minimizing saturated fats, trans fats and alcohol. Physical exercise: Regular aerobic activity contributes to enhanced executive functioning, improved memory, and increased cerebral blood flow, Bring movement into your life by attending exercise classes, using fitness videos, walking, cycling, swimming, and dancing. Pick activities that are fun and motivating. Stress reduction Chronic stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders contribute to cognitive disfunction and dementia. Participate in stress reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, or mindfulness. Kirta Kriya, for example, is a seated meditation that involves chanting and finger movements. “Twelve minutes a day has been shown to improve cognitive function, cerebral blood flow, neurotransmitter function telomere length, inflammatory markers, mental health, sleep, and psychospiritual well-being”. Cognitive training Engaging in mentally challenging leisure activities is associated with reduced risk of dementia. Participate in computer games, singing or playing in a band, learning a foreign language, memory games, and word puzzles. Activities need to difficult enough to provide a challenge, but not so difficult that you become frustrated or discouraged. I hope that this review will encourage you to rethink your life style and choices.

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