Unfortunately, over five million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, and a new senior is diagnosed every 66 seconds, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Frighteningly, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Cognitive health is an important part of maintaining happiness and high quality of life in your golden years. Although you can’t completely eliminate your chances of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia, there are certain things you can do to significantly reduce your risk. Consider implementing the following seven tips into your daily routine for your brain health:
Have a Daily Cup of Coffee – One coffee chemical (eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide or EHT) has been shown through scientific research to protect against the development of dementia. The caffeine in coffee also improves brain health through consolidating memories. However, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. In this case, too much coffee can lead to high blood pressure. Moderation is key.
Or a Cup of Tea – If you’re not a coffee drinker, fear not, as green tea and white tea also have cognitive health benefits. Studies have shown regular consumption of these teas helps avoid cognitive decline and aid memory retention.
Laugh Daily – by connecting with those around us, we’re stimulating the parts of our brain that deal with social interaction. Happiness through laughter produces dopamine which has been shown to boost brain health. Moreover, a study from the University of Chicago lends extra credence to the idea of conversing with strangers.
Eat More Vegetables –a large study of seniors completed by the Chicago Health and Aging Project found that those who at four or more helpings of vegetables a day had a 40% slower decline in cognition than those seniors who ate only one vegetable serving a day. For even more nutrition, look for vegetables high in antioxidants.
Exercise – the benefits of exercise should come as no surprise and for good reason: exercise has been proven to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s as well as reduce your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and other harmful diseases. Astoundingly, exercise has been shown to reduce Alzheimer’s by up to 50% according to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation. You should also consider short bursts of activity throughout the day instead of one prolonged exercise session, as one study found bursts of activity has positive outcomes on our blood sugar levels.
Get a Hobby – by picking up an art class, woodworking, quilting, etc., you can not only develop a new skill, but also reduce your chance of developing Alzheimer’s. In a study by the Mayo Clinic, octogenarians (people in their 80’s) reduced their chances of cognitive decline by over 50% when they engaged in a hobby activity they enjoyed.
Sleep More – in addition to brain benefits, a full night’s rest has been shown to lower your chance of developing heart disease, diabetes, and even obesity. Although the exact sleep requirements differ from person to person, shoot for eight hours and otherwise pay attention to the natural rhythms of your body.