Tips to Maintain Brain Health
Growing evidence shows that key lifestyle changes can help people reduce risk of cognitive decline.
Engaging in healthy behaviors, which have also been shown to reduce cancer, diabetes and heart disease, will help achieve maximum benefits for both the brain and body. And the good news is, it’s never too late to encourage your patients to adopt the following healthy habits.
Tips for Maintaining Brain Health
Encourage your patients to start adopting these 8 strategies today to protect their brain health now and in the future.
Several studies have linked regular physical activity with a reduced risk of cognitive decline. Encourage your patients to break a sweat and engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates the heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body.
Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Urge any smokers to quit smoking in order to reduce their risk of cognitive decline.
Keep a Healthy Heart
Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke — obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes — negatively impact cognitive health. Working with your patients to prevent and/or manage high blood pressure and cholesterol will help protect their hearts and take care of their brains.
Eat a Healthy and Balanced Diet
Following a diet that is low in fat and high in vegetables and fruit has also been linked to reducing the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets, including the Mediterranean, Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and MIND Diet, may contribute to a reduced risk of cognitive decline.
Get Enough Sleep
Not getting enough sleep may result in problems with memory and thinking, yet a third of American adults report regularly getting less sleep than the recommended 7-8 hours. Urge your patients to sleep at least 7-8 hours per night as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
Stay Socially Engaged
Social and intellectual engagement is important to brain health. Pursuing interesting and meaningful social activities helps people keep connections with others and their local communities. Encourage volunteering at a local church or animal shelter or for patients to share the activities they enjoy with friends and family.
Continue Learning and Welcome Challenges
Challenging and activating the mind by doing puzzles, building furniture or playing games are good ways to encourage strategic thinking. Taking an online class or learning a new language also helps keep the mind sharp.
Don't Forget Mental Health
Some studies also link depression with increased risk of cognitive decline. Make sure to monitor your patients’ stress and refer them for medical attention to investigate symptoms of depression, anxiety or any other mental health concerns to help optimize brain health.