If you’ve watched a parent struggle with dementia, it is natural to wonder if the same path may be in your future. After all, one out of twenty who has a parent with Alzheimer’s eventually gets the condition. But you don’t have to accept that you’ll be one of the 5%. Instead, take these 5 small steps to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s today.
1. Manage your health. Do you have high blood pressure? Diabetes? High cholesterol? Do everything you can to manage those conditions today to avoid problems in the future. Each one can damage the tiny blood vessels in your brain, robbing the tiny brain cells of nutrients and oxygen. Keep your brain in top shape by making a pledge to get your health under control. Whether it’s seeing the doctor more regularly, making some diet modifications, or using mediation, you need to take the first step to protect the blood flow to your brain.
2. Eat right. If you don’t have any health conditions, you still need to take care of yourself to avoid future problems. Eating nutrient-rich food is a great way to do that. Look for leafy greens, healthy oils, and light protein at each meal. Avoid red and processed meats, or at least eat them sparingly.
3. Sleep well. When you’re resting, it’s the busiest part of your brain’s day. During sleep, the brain is organizing, making new connections, forming new memories, and cleaning out any junk that shouldn’t be there. That means that if you’re not getting enough shut-eye, you’re stealing that healing time away from your brain. You know you feel better when you get enough sleep, so make it happen.
4. Challenge yourself. Don’t let your brain get lazy. Keep it strong by challenging it with regular brain-teasers. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go solving riddles all day. Attack the day’s crossword or pour over a book to get your brain the action it needs. Even chatting with a friend will get those neurons connecting.
5. Reduce stress. While your brain loves a challenge, it doesn’t love the challenge of a great amount of stress. Let your brain decompress daily by meditating, practicing yoga, or listening to some soft music. Your brain, as well as the rest of your body, will appreciate the much-needed break.
Reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s doesn’t have to be a major task. Put these few steps into play and you will keep your brain strong and healthy for years to come.