Who among us doesn’t worry that our minds will give out before our bodies do? Personally, it’s one of my biggest fears. And clinical evidence suggests this concern isn’t merely paranoia. For most of us, our bodies will outpace our mental facilities.
At the extreme end of the spectrum is Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. A staggering 5.5 million Americans are affected by this horrible affliction.
The great news, however, is that researchers are making considerable strides in the way of prevention, and even reversing the effects of this dreadful epidemic. A recent study from the University of California-San Francisco uncovered some exciting and simple tips for lifestyle modification.
“Brain health” was a term used frequently, and one of the key techniques used is the exact same one we use to keep our bodies healthy: physical activity. Heightened exercise levels can reduce dementia risk by as much as 30-40 percent. Even a modest exercise routine aids the region of the brain responsible for memory formation and the maintenance of those memories.
Another way to “age-proof” your brain is to learn new skills, which can spur the growth of new brain cells. It has also been suggested that avoiding or limiting stress can improve memory. Techniques such as prayer or meditation work to lessen the hormones released during stressful times.
In the area of diet, the recommendation is to “eat like a Greek,” loading up on a Mediterranean menu of fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts and beans. Studies report that such a diet can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 34-48 percent, and also show that a healthy intake of natural herbs and spices like black pepper, oregano, basil, cinnamon, parsley, ginger and vanilla can improve brainpower.
It’s important to remember that even though we can’t see inside our own heads, the mind is aging, so exercising the brain needs to be a daily activity and a priority in life. As always, seek your physician’s input for a diet and exercise plan that’s right for you.
Unlike that fabled teaspoon of castor oil, today you can easily make prevention enjoyable by experiencing new foods and participating in exercise venues that promote fun and fellowship.