In clearing out my DVR queue recently, I ran across a PBS program that featured psychiatrist Daniel Amen, the author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. He was giving a presentation on how to improve memory and decrease the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Amen described how each of us can affect our brain health in positive ways to delay or avoid the mental decline associated with age.
Can you really improve the health of your brain? Find out for yourself. As I described in a post last year, three things under your control have been proven to contribute to better brain health. Those things are: physical activity, mental stimulation, and good nutrition.
Dr. Amen suggests that we help improve our brain health by managing our BMI, which means maintaining our optimal weight. Because aging never stops, we can never stop exercising and should make movement a regular part of our schedule. Amen recommends that we exercise at least three days a week. You can just walk as if you’re in a hurry for 30 minutes. He also suggests lifting weights.
For mental stimulation, Amen promotes exercising the brain through a variety of means. It’s important to learn something new. That could be a foreign language or a complex dance step or to play a musical instrument. And laugh often. These strategies stimulate different parts of the brain in helpful ways.
That leaves eating well. It is necessary if we want to take good care of our brains. If you find it too much trouble to cut toxic snacks and prepare healthy meals, consider this: Physical conditions that stem from a poor diet also contribute to poor brain health. Some are obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. The more we let our eating get out of control, the more we risk forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s.
Research shows that our attitudes, beliefs, and expectations play a major role in the outcomes we experience. To change our commitment to physical activity, mental stimulation, and healthy eating we must first change our minds. And the more we improve our physical health, the more we boost our brain health.
Having witnessed several family members coping with Alzheimer’s, I, for one, am committed to doing all that I can to maintain as much brain health as I can for as long as I can.