For centuries, we’ve known that the health of the brain and the body are connected. But now, science is able to provide insights into how to optimize our physical and cognitive health as we age.
Research in the areas of exercise, diet and nutrition, cognitive activity, and social engagement reveals the importance of adopting these recommendations into a plan for healthy aging.
Currently, no proven methods exist to prevent, cure, or even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Although there have not yet been any conclusive findings, researchers continue to discover links between healthy behaviors and a reduced risk of dementia.
At any age, we can adopt lifestyle habits to help maintain or even potentially improve our health. These habits may also help to keep our brains healthy as we age and possibly delay the onset of cognitive decline.
Physical exercise can help maintain good blood flow to the brain and encourage the formation of new brain cells.
Recent studies have revealed that regular, moderate exercise among individuals in their 50s and 60s may help protect them against mild cognitive impairment, a condition of mild declines in brain function that may precede Alzheimer’s.
Studies also show that unhealthy weight gain or weight loss may play a role in brain health. Obesity in middle age may increase one’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
Diet and Nutrition
Another area of focus for healthy aging is diet and nutrition. Again, we know that a healthy fueling of the body benefits brain functioning, but there are many differing opinions about what is the best way to eat to maximize health.
Research tends to show that a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet is advisable. And there is growing evidence that a diet rich in dark vegetables and fruits, which contain antioxidants, may help protect brain cells.
Cognitive activity and social engagement is another important area of emphasis for healthy aging. Social and mentally stimulating activities can reduce stress levels, which helps maintain healthy connections among brain cells and may even create new nerve cells.
Scientists are working hard to discover strategies for prevention, treatments, or cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Although no proven methods yet, making healthy lifestyle choices can improve overall health—staying physically active, eating healthy, remaining socially and mentally active, and avoiding smoking.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s®. Visit www.alz.org or call 800-272-3900 for more info.