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10 Healthy Habits for Your Brain


In recognition of Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month in June, the Alzheimer’s Association in North Carolina educating all about the benefits of brain health. While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, we know more than ever about brain health, risk reduction and ways to live well with the disease.

Today, there are nearly 7 million people aged 65 and older in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, including more than 210,000 in North Carolina. The lifetime risk for the disease at age 45 is 1 in 5 for women and 1 in 10 for men. The brain changes that cause Alzheimer’s are thought to begin 20 years or more before symptoms start, which suggests that there may be a substantial window of time in which we can intervene in the progression of the disease.

Experts believe there isn’t a single cause of Alzheimer’s. It’s likely the disease develops as a result of multiple factors. While not a direct cause of Alzheimer’s, the greatest known risk factor is advancing age. Although some risk factors like age cannot be changed, others — including physical activity, not smoking, education, challenging your mind, blood pressure and diet — may be modified to reduce a person’s risk.

“Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month offers the perfect opportunity for North Carolina residents to take charge of their brain health,” said Katherine L. Lambert, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association – Western Carolina Chapter. “We want people to know there are steps they can take to potentially reduce their risk of cognitive decline. We also want to encourage anyone experiencing memory or thinking problems to talk to their doctor. There are many possible causes — and if it is Alzheimer’s disease, there are numerous benefits to getting a timely diagnosis.”

Based on mounting scientific evidence, the Alzheimer’s Association offers these 10 healthy habits for your brain. Follow as many of these 10 tips as possible to achieve maximum benefits for the brain and body.

1. Challenge your mind. Be curious. Put your brain to work and do something that is new for you. Learn a new skill. Try something artistic. Challenging your mind may have short- and long-term benefits for your brain.

2. Stay in school. Education reduces your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Encourage youth to stay in school and pursue the highest level of training possible. Continue your own education by taking a class at a local library, college, or online.

3. Get moving. Engage in regular exercise. This includes activities that raise your heart rate and increase blood flow to the brain and body. Find ways to build more movement into your day — walking, dancing, gardening — whatever works for you!

4. Protect your head. Help prevent an injury to your head. Wear a helmet for activities like biking, and wear a seatbelt. Do what you can to prevent falls, especially for older adults.

5. Be smoke-free. Quitting smoking can lower the risk of cognitive decline back to levels similar to those who have not smoked. It’s never too late to stop.

6. Control your blood pressure. Medications can help lower high blood pressure. And healthy habits like eating right and physical activity can help too. Work with a health care provider to control your blood pressure.

7. Manage diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or controlled by healthier eating, increasing physical activity, and medication, if necessary.

8. Eat right. Eating healthier foods can help reduce your risk of cognitive decline. This includes more vegetables and leaner meats/proteins, along with foods that are less processed and lower in fat. Choose healthier meals and snacks that you enjoy and are available to you. Make eating right a habit!

9. Maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your health care provider about the weight that is healthy for you. Other healthy habits on this list — eating right, physical activity and sleep — can help with maintaining a healthy weight.

10. Sleep well. Good quality sleep is important for brain health. Stay off screens before bed and make your sleep space as comfortable as possible. Do all you can to minimize disruptions. If you have any sleep-related problems, such as sleep apnea, talk to a health care provider.

To learn more, visit alz.org/healthyhabits.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, support for families and people living with the disease and information on the Alzheimer’s Association - Western Carolina Chapter, visit alz.org/northcarolina or call 800.272.3900.

Alzheimers Association, Brain Health, Dementia, North Carolina


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