Small impairments in your brain’s function can lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life. The good news is that you can naturally improve your cognitive health and prevent those small impairments from turning into something more serious. If you’re wondering how to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s, the first step is to make a few improvements in your daily activities and try to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Get More And Better Sleep
Many studies link poor sleep quality and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, a disorder in which the sleeper suddenly stops breathing during sleep, to mild cognitive impairment (MIC), which is the stage between cognitive decline related to age and dementia.
A study compared the sleep quality of MIC patients to the sleep quality of a non-MIC control group. MIC patients fell asleep faster and woke up earlier than the control group and also performed poorly in memory challenges. The results of this study are similar to the cognitive changes that Alzheimer’s patients experience, so poor sleep quality can be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease. (5)
Exercise Your Brain
A Swedish study found that your education and occupation may protect you later in life from dementia. The study looked at the school grade reports and work history of about 7,600 adults since age 10. The risk of dementia was lower in adults who got higher grades, attended post-secondary institutions, and had jobs that involved complex data. In some cases, having a more complex job covered for the lack of higher education, but not for poor school grades. (3)
Even if you’re not currently in school, you can still exercise your gray matter, the part of your brain where nerve cell bodies are located. These cells deal with muscle control, sense perception, seeing, hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision-making, and self-control. Doing complex activities such as learning something new or doing memory exercises can strengthen the connections between nerve cells and delay brain damage.
Engage In Physical Activity
Multiple studies suggest that physical activity can improve the metabolism, structure, and function of your brain, as well as your cognitive performance. The types of physical exercise that seem to help are aerobics, strength training, and multicomponent exercise such as Tai Chi. These exercises caused important changes in the brain function of participants and improved their memory, attention, and other executive functions. (4)
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Experiencing depression early in life can put you at risk of developing dementia, while having depression later in life can be an early symptom of onset dementia. The link between depression and dementia is not clear yet, but studies reveal that they affect the nervous system in a similar way and show a similar pattern of neuronal damage. (1)
Eat Healthy Foods
Research links type 2 diabetes to dementia and cognitive reduction. Both conditions can cause damage to your veins and arteries, and they also have similar processes that involve glucose and metabolic disturbances. Controlling your blood sugar levels by avoiding factors that could damage your veins and arteries is important for both illnesses. Eating a healthy diet that’s low on sugar and rich in nutritious whole foods will keep your arteries in good health, which means more blood to the brain. (2)
These steps are simple and with a little effort you can incorporate them into your everyday life. If you’d like to improve and strengthen the function of brain, learn how to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and start taking care of your cognitive health today.
(1) Bennett, S., & Thomas, A. J. (2014). Depression and dementia: cause, consequence or coincidence?. Maturitas, 79(2), 184-190.
(2) Biessels, G. J., Strachan, M. W., Visseren, F. L., Kappelle, L. J., & Whitmer, R. A. (2014). Dementia and cognitive decline in type 2 diabetes and prediabetic stages: towards targeted interventions. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 2(3), 246-55.
(3) Dekhtyar, S., Wang, H. X., Scott, K., Goodman, A., Koupil, I., Herlitz, A. (2015). A Life-Course Study of Cognitive Reserve in Dementia–From Childhood to Old Age. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 23(9), 885-896.
(4) Kirk-Sanchez, N. J., & McGough, E. L. (2014). Physical exercise and cognitive performance in the elderly: current perspectives. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 9, 51–62.
(5) Naismith, S. L., Hickie, I. B., Terpening, Z., Rajaratnam, S. M., Hodges, J. R., Bolitho, S., . . . & Lewis, S. J. (2014). Circadian misalignment and sleep disruption in mild cognitive impairment. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 38(4), 857-866.