When it comes to certain risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, there are concrete steps we can take. We can, for example, eat healthy foods, stay physically active and exercise our brain. Learn more about these 3 factors that can protect us from Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Healthy eating
Generally, a diet that is good for heart health is also good for brain health.
Inspired by the Mediterranean diet, a diet that promotes brain health includes a wide variety of foods and is based mainly on plant products. The foods to emphasize include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, fish, and seafood, and sources of good fats, such as olive oil, canola oil, and nuts. On the other hand, red meat, sweetened beverages and foods, and other highly processed products are to be enjoyed in small quantities.
It’s good to remember that there is no miracle food and that the benefits of diet on brain health are seen over the long term!
2. Physical activity
Not surprisingly, physical activity has many health benefits. But did you know that moving regularly also affects brain health?
Being physically active has positive effects on psychological health (mood and sense of well‑being) and on cognitive performance (attention, memory, and information processing speed).
Moving can also lower high blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, two major risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.
Physical activity is also an excellent opportunity to socialize and reduce isolation. An active social life has a protective effect against dementia.
For maximum benefit, the ideal is to do at least 150 minutes of moderate- to high-intensity activities per week. Every step counts!
3. Intellectual stimulation
Many scientific studies have found a link between regular “cognitively stimulating” activities and a lower risk of cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s.
What is a “cognitively stimulating” activity?
In short, it’s an activity that challenges your neurons! To get the benefits, certain conditions apply. First, you need to do several different activities and try new ones. You also need to spend time and energy, and have fun doing it!
What does that mean for my daily life?
According to researchers, doing 7 or 8 different “cognitively stimulating” leisure activities 3 or 4 times a week each promotes brain health.
Here are a few examples: creative projects, educational activities (language classes, podcasts on a topic that interests you, etc.), brain games (sudokus, crosswords, etc.), or social and cultural activities (book club, virtual museum tours, etc.).
Cognitively stimulating activities will indeed help to maintain and build your cognitive reserve. How does this work?
The brain maintains its plasticity throughout your life. It is malleable, which means it never stops adapting and creating connections between neurons. These new networks make up your “cognitive reserve” and offset the damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease or simply by aging, helping to preserve your memory and other cognitive functions.