How to look after your long-term brain health
-Dec 10, Jenny Paul , Health -
You might be concerned about Alzheimer’s or dementia perhaps due to a family history, or because you have lived through the pain of seeing a loved one suffer from these diseases.
Not helping is the fact that there always seems to be research in the headlines which gives the impression that a number of different and varying factors can cause dementia, for example, a report which was published in the Lancet suggests that people who live near major roads often have higher rates of dementia – due to air pollution or noisy traffic contributing to the brain’s decline.
While experts seem divided on the report’s findings, with some saying that the results needed probing but were “plausible,” we decided to look at the positive things which we can do to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as well as look after long-term brain health.
The two pillars of great brain health
Lumity’s creator Dr. Sara Palmer Hussey, PhD, has studied the various factors behind why we age and tells us that a healthy diet and sleep are crucial for maintaining great brain health as we get older:
“Like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia has a combination of causes and, therefore, treatment that combines a number of therapies may be the most effective approach,” Dr Palmer Hussey explains. “A healthy diet rich in brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables plus exercise is an obvious wellness prescription, but often we can overlook the importance of sleep.
“Sleep is when your body is best able to renew, repair damage and eliminate debris.
“The build-up of such debris (specifically amyloid beta) is a contributing factor to neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s. Sufficient energy production in brain cells is also essential for removing debris and general brain health, therefore, nutrients that counteract insulin resistance and improve cellular energy production (eg. acetyl-l-carnitine, co-enzyme q10, magnesium) can be highly beneficial.”
A diet which is rich in nutrients that counteract chronic inflammation is key
“Chronic inflammation can also play a contributing role in the progression of certain conditions, such as alzheimer’s, as it hinders the efficient repair and regeneration necessary for healthy brain function,” she explains.
Dr Palmer Hussey underlines the importance of not isolating yourself socially, keeping busy and having fun – which all have a protective effect against various forms of dementia:
“There are lots of interesting reports about how community (especially the social factor of community spirit and companionship), friendship, (good) marriage, studying and reading (using those brain cells), laughter and fun has been identified as another factor that can contribute to staving off the occurrence and progression of such dementia,” Sara concludes.
How lifestyle factors can help
Taking regular physical exercise, eating a Mediterranean diet, not smoking, and drinking alcohol in moderation have all found by various studies to decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. In addition, preventing and treating diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity have also been found to reduce the risks of such diseases.