Brain health

A healthy diet, regular exercise, social interactions and mental
stimulation may help preserve brain health and cognitive
functions.1-3

Taking care of our brain is just as important as taking care of other parts of our body.1-3

Research suggests that lifestyle changes and mentally stimulating activities may help protect the brain as it ages and play a crucial role in reducing the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other brain diseases leading to dementia.1-3

It is never too early and never too late in the life course for dementia prevention.2

Starting from early childhood, cognitive stimulation achieved through social, mental, and physical activities is important to enhance our brain reserves, which is the brain’s ability to adapt, respond to changes and compensate for any damages that may occur in later life.2

Percentage reduction in dementia risk if this factor is eliminated2


Up to 40% of dementia cases might be prevented or delayed by modifying the following 12 risk factors throughout life2

40%Potentially modifiable
60%Risk
unknown

Later Life

  • 5% Smoking
  • 4% Depression
  • 4% Social isolation
  • 2% Physical inactivity
  • 2% Air pollution
  • 1% Diabetes

Midlife

  • 8% Hearing loss
  • 3% Traumatic brain injury
  • 2% Hypertension
  • 1% Alcohol > 21 units/week
  • 1% Obesity

Early Life

  • 7% Less education

Adapted from Livingston G, et al. 20202

How to improve brain health

Our brain is tightly connected to the rest of our body. Lifestyle changes can be beneficial for our body as well as have a positive impact on our brain health. Those interventions may help preserve brain health and reduce the likelihood of developing AD and other types of dementia.1-3

Physical exercise

Maintaining a regular physical exercise, such as walking to the grocery store or to the office, biking, stretching, or doing yoga have a positive effect on heart, bones, mood, and immune system and are good for the brain, because they enhance learning and memory.1-3

Moreover, it has been shown that at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity a week help improve physical fitness and preserve cognitive skills.1-3

Diet & Nutrition

A Mediterranean diet, particularly the consumption of fruit, vegetables and fish, is associated with decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia.1-3

A healthy, balanced diet lower in saturated fats also plays a crucial role in the prevention of many conditions that increase the risk of dementia, such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension and heart diseases.1-3

Smoking

Smokers are at higher risk of dementia than non-smokers. Stopping smoking is beneficial regardless of age.1-3

Alcohol consumption

Heavy drinking on a regular basis can increase the risk of developing dementia. Reducing alcohol consumption or stopping it completely is beneficial for our brain.1-3

Social engagement

Leading an active social life and maintaining frequent interactions with friends and family are strongly connected to brain health and well-being. Research suggests that social contact is a protective factor against age-related cognitive impairment.1-3

Sleep

Good quality sleep has a profound impact on overall body and on brain health, influencing energy level and mood. Studies have found that sleeping well may reduce the build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain, which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline.1-3

To improve your sleep you could maintain a regular bedtime routine and sleep schedule, or abstaining from caffeine and alcohol near bedtime, and allow yourself for on average between 7 to 8 hours per night.

Mental fitness

Mental exercise is just as important as physical activity in keeping our brain healthy and fit.

Embracing new activities and continuing to learn new things throughout life, such as a new language or picking up a new hobby, help strengthen our brain skills and makes brain cells more resistant to the effects of ageing.

Examples of brain exercises that may help improve memory and problem-solving skills are reading, doing crossword, sudoku puzzle, chess game or electronic “brain games”.1-3

If you have concerns or questions about your brain health, talking with your doctor is an important initial step to identify risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and adopt appropriate lifestyle interventions.

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most feared diseases and bringing up this subject with individuals suffering from early cognitive decline may be an emotionally loaded conversation.4

Talking with a doctor about difficulty with memory or thinking is an important first step to catch early signs of AD and differentiate them from normal ageing.1-3

Lifestyle choices, such as physical exercise, social and mental activities, cardiovascular health, adequate sleep, may help protect brain functions and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.1-3

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