Brain health is often overlooked as compared to physical health. Yet dementia is a disease that is affecting more and more people. It is estimated that Alzheimer’s, the most common cause of dementia, will affect approximately 131.5 million people worldwide by the year 2050.
According to an article, approximately 4.1 million people are living with dementia in India. Worldwide, India has the second-highest number of dementia sufferers. This number will probably rise to 7.6 million by 2035, according to a report by the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India titled Dementia in India Report 2020. Reports suggest that many people with dementia fail to get a clear diagnosis or treatment as medical resources aren’t enough to meet the needs of patients.
With the situation being what it is, taking steps to prevent Alzheimer’s is very important. Being healthy is said to help ward off the disease. Studies link mental exercise, diet and lifestyle to be able to protect the brain from decline. Here are some tips on how to help keep your brain active and healthy.
The brain needs as much of a workout as the body, with numerous studies showing that brain training improves cognitive ability, which is basically your ability to think, understand and reason. Recent research found that those who participate in brain training games improved their memory by as much as 40%. Give your brain a grilling and have some fun with apps such as Lumosity, Elevate and Peak.
Brain health has been linked to heart and blood vessel health, which means the same risk factors of cardiovascular disease may apply for dementia. In fact, someone who has had a stroke, or who has diabetes or heart disease, is about twice as likely to develop dementia. Cut out unhealthy habits and avoid smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and fatty foods.
Aerobic exercise (exercise that raises your heart rate) such as running, swimming and cycling has been shown to help protect memory and cognitive abilities. Studies also suggest that exercise stimulates the release of chemicals that affect brain cell health, the growth of new blood vessels and the volume and survival of new brain cells.
Diet and nutrition play a key role in brainpower. A fifth of our energy intake is burned up by the brain. Just 2% dehydration affects our attention, memory and other cognitive abilities. Evidence suggests a heart-healthy diet is also a brain-healthy one, with research showing a Mediterranean diet (a diet consisting mainly of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, beans, grains, cereals, fish and fats that are unsaturated) can lower the risk of brain decline by as much as 48%.
Whole grains including brown rice and wholewheat bread may also help with concentration and focus. Foods rich in essential fatty acids such as Indian mackerel (bangda), flax (alsi) seeds, pumpkin seeds and soya beans are important for healthy brain function. Studies suggest that dark red and purple fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, play a role in boosting short-term memory.
Research shows that regular exercise boosts memory and thinking and also improves sleep. One study shows that regular, moderate exercise over 6 to 12 months is associated with an increase in the volume of parts of our brain.