If Alzheimer’s disease does not yet seem like a threat at the age of 40, specialists point out that it is at this age that good habits to maintain a healthy brain for as long as possible are most interesting. . Here are 7 reminders to stay alert.
Did you know ? After cancer, Alzheimer’s disease is the disease most feared by the French. A cognitive decline that is frightening, for oneself and for one’s loved ones, especially when the disease is already present in the family. But while there is still no treatment or proven way to completely prevent the disease, there are steps you can take to help keep your brain alert for years to come. And the forties, the period during which the first protein of Alzheimer’s disease, called amyloid, can begin to develop in the brain, seems to be the most favorable for adopting the right actions, like an investment in the future. Here are 7 habits to adopt to pamper your brain, spotted by Well+Good magazine.
Eat more mindfully
Although diet alone cannot prevent Alzheimer’s disease, there have been promising studies on the Mediterranean and DASH diets, which many experts now recommend combining into a single dietary approach called the MIND diet (which stands for Mediterranean- DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, in English). According to a 2015 study, people following this diet have a 53% reduced risk of being affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
In a nutshell, the diet encourages high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and nuts while limiting red meat, cheese and other sources of saturated or trans fats. A possible effort!
Brain and body often go hand in hand. For example, a landmark February 2011 study in PNAS found that more active people have greater brain volume in regions crucial for memory, such as the frontal lobes and hippocampus (while Alzheimer’s disease is associated brain atrophy or reduction in brain volume). Exercise is also beneficial for memory. And a final study from December 2020 in Preventive Medicine even found that inactive adults are almost twice as likely to experience cognitive decline. Enough to get moving regularly again, right?
To maintain good physical shape, the World Health Organization advises adults to devote 150 to 300 minutes per week to moderate-intensity endurance activity or to practice at least 75 to 150 minutes of sustained intensity endurance activity. But experts point out that even if you don’t exactly reach these numbers, the most important thing is not to remain sedentary.
Stop neglecting your sleep
Good brain health also requires good sleep. Not getting enough sleep or frequently having disrupted sleep can weaken your immune system and accelerate the risk of cognitive decline according to an April 2021 study in Nature Communications. What is a good night? While the answer is different for everyone, experts recommend getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night and sticking to a regular sleep schedule as best you can). If you have difficulty sleeping, mindfulness and relaxation strategies such as meditation or yoga can help if you practice them regularly. If necessary, contact a sleep specialist.
Maintain your relationships
Your friends are really good for your brain. Not only does social engagement promote a feeling of closeness and connection, it can also help prevent the type of cognitive decline. Loneliness is also linked to higher rates of dementia as well as faster cognitive decline, according to a 2022 article in the Journal of Psychiatry and Brain Science. Finding the time to see your friends, through an activity, a coffee, an outing, between work and family is therefore necessary for your health.
Exercise your brain too
Cognitive exercise is also important for good brain health throughout life. There is no need to succumb to games and books dedicated to this task, the important thing is to regularly stimulate your brain. If you want to learn an instrument or a new language, now is the right time.
Take care of your heart too
The heart and blood vessels provide oxygen and nutrients to your brain. By taking care of your heart, you allow your entire body and your brain to function optimally. How to take care of your heart health? By following a few simple recommendations:
- Do your best to reduce stress;
- Make sure your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels are within healthy limits;
- Eat nutritious foods;
- Have your medications reviewed regularly with your doctor;
- Avoid smoking;
- Limit alcohol to one drink or less per day.
Beware of supplements
Finally, many supplements claim to improve brain health and memory, sometimes even going so far as to say they reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. But no drug or supplement today is a magical answer to this decline. Also keep in mind that supplements are not studied or regulated like medications, but can cause side effects. If you think you may have a vitamin deficiency and are concerned that it may affect your health, talk to a doctor.