Healthy living for your brain and body – Tips from the latest research

Aging well depends on genetics, environment and lifestyle. Lifestyle choices may help keep your body and brain healthy. Heart and brain health are interrelated. What you do to protect your heart can also help your brain to continue to function at its best. The brain depends on oxygen and adequate blood flow to work well.

Taking care of yourself as you age involves four components:

Physical health and exercise

Cardiovascular activity may reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Regular and vigorous exercise leads to blood flow, as well as other physical activity yields benefits. Do something you like, start out small, move safety, get your heart rate up, ask friends to join and socialize, and always check with your doctor before you start! Research also suggests to stop smoking, avoid excess alcohol, get adequate sleep, implement stress management, treat and manage medical conditions by monitoring “your numbers” blood pressure, blood sugar, weight and cholesterol and visiting and updating your health care provider regularly.

Diet and Nutrition

What is good for your heart is also good for your brain. Nutritious food fuels the brain and following some recommended dietary guidelines can reduce risk of heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and diabetes. Eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and whole grains. Also recommended are lean meats, fish and poultry, as well as vegetable oils/healthy fats. Avoid saturated/trans fats, processed foods, solid fat, sugar and salt. As well as deep fried foods and unhealthy fast foods. Consult reputable sources such as your physician or pharmacist regarding dietary supplements and vitamins. If it sounds to good to be true-it’s probably not true. Be cautious of huge promises or reports of miracle cures. Do your research.

Cognitive Activity

Keeping your mind active forms new connections among brain cells. Cognitive activity encourages blood flow to the brain. mentally stimulating activities may maintain or even improve cognition. Suggested cognitive stimulating activities are reading books, completing puzzles and playing games that are challenging. Learning new skills or hobbies, ongoing education and learning, and changing your routine such as going a different direction and using your non-dominant hand.

Social Engagement

Research indicates that social engagement is associated with living longer with fewer disabilities. Staying involved in the community provides an opportunity to maintain skills as well as learn new skills. Remaining socially and mentally active may support brain health and possibly delay the onset of cognitive decline. Visit with friends and family, engage with others, volunteer outside the home, or join a group or club.

Take care of your heart and brain health by:

– Get moving

– Eat right

– Keep your mind active

– Stay connected with others

Combine all 4 components for maximum benefits, however all components provide benefits. Begin today, start small and build, do what you enjoy and stick with it, make healthy choices, make a plan, get support from others and most importantly…..Have Fun!!

Please join the Alzheimer’s Association in collaboration with the NDSU Extension Service on June 26, 2018 at 2:00 pm in the Ward County Building for a more extensive presentation regarding healthy living. Contact Jodi Keller at 837-0062 for information.