Brain Health & Alzheimer’s Awareness

Our brain is one of our main organs that is essential for living. It helps us do everything from talking, breathing, walking and more. Because of it’s importance in our daily lives we must take care of it and make sure we are keeping it healthy through our diet and lifestyle choices! 

Although our diet and lifestyle choices can make a significant impact on the health of our brain, there are other factors such as genetics and age that we don’t have control over. These factors can lead to a decline in the health of our brain cells which may lead to symptoms of dementia as we age. 

Dementia describes the symptoms of a decline in mental strength, which eventually interferes with everyday tasks. This often gets confused with Alzheimer’s disease, a specific type of dementia where brain changes occur after brain cells are damaged. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and continues to be heavily researched. Researchers believe there are steps we can take starting early on in our lives which may help reduce the likelihood of suffering from this condition. 

One lifestyle factor we can control isthe amount of physical activity we participate in each day. It is recommended that we get 20-30 minutes of activity each day. This can help to increase our cardiovascular strength, which may have a link to our brain aging. Another factor we may control is our diets, whichplay a large role in our overall health. 

Foods found in a Mediterranean pattern of eatingare rich in antioxidants, are anti-inflammatory, andmay be beneficial in supporting brain health and cognitive function. 

The Mediterranean diet continues to beclosely studied to determine its influence on the development of Alzheimer’s disease. This diet consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seafood, and a moderate amount of unsaturated fats, including olive oil. This way of eatingtends to limit red meat, saturated fats, and added sugars.  In addition to following a more nutritious eating pattern, alifestyle that limits high alcohol consumption and smoking, mayalso aid infighting against diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Furthermore, there may be additional protective perks of a nutritious diet, likelowering the chances of developing symptoms of Dementia. In addition to exercise and diet, we might alsohave the ability to influence other factors including sleep, mental stimulation, and social interaction, all of whichmay play a role in our Dementia risk. 

Sleep and rest are key to recharging our bodies mentally and physically. Disruptive sleep, snoring, and sleep apnea are all associated with increased risk of Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. We can keep our brain in good shape by challenging ourselves through reading, doing puzzles or word games. We can also socialize through sharing meals with others and having in depth conversations. Social interaction has been seen to have a beneficial influence on keeping our brain cells active and healthy. 

Through thoughtful actions and intentions, we can better protect ourselves from brain cell deterioration and lessen our chances of developing symptoms of Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.  In this case, our knowledge can give us the power to influence our future for the better. 

Michaela Clegg,
Market 5-ONE-5 Nutrition Lead

Sources:

https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/difference-between-dementia-and-alzheimer-s

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-do-we-know-about-diet-and-prevention-alzheimers-disease

https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dementia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352013

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-fifth-vital-sign/201904/how-social-interaction-may-prevent-dementia

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