5 ways to protect your brain, according to a neurologist
- It is estimated that 50 million people are affected by dementia worldwide. Nearly 10 million new cases are diagnosed each year.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia worldwide.
- The brain, which weighs an average of 1.3 kg, is made up of 100 billion nerve cells.
Sleep, hunger, reflection, emotions, movements… the brain manages everything we do. Interviewed by the American site Best Life, Dr. Verna R. Porter, neurologist and director of the dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and neurocognitive disorders service at Providence Saint John’s Health Center (USA), shared the elements that can boost activity of this indispensable organ.
Having social connections improves brain health
It may come as a surprise, but talking and meeting other people is a vital part of good brain health. “Maintaining a strong network of family and friends is very important”confirms the neurologist. If your social circle is quite small, the expert recommends joining “volunteer organisations, clubs or social groups, to attend classes (for example at a gym or university) or to go out (to go to the cinema, park, museum or other public places)” in order to multiply the opportunities to create social ties.
Adopt the MIND diet to take care of the brain
A MIND menu is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. This diet – very rich in vegetables, fruits and good fats – is known to take care of the brain. Among other things, it gives pride of place to leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts. In addition, she advocates reducing the consumption of red meat, cheese and sweets.
“A growing body of research has shown a strong link between metabolic disorders like diabetes and impaired nerve signaling in the brain”explains the specialist. She then adds: “Better eating habits can help reduce inflammation in the brain, which in turn helps protect it.”
Sleep well to eliminate brain toxins
Not getting enough sleep doesn’t just cause dark circles. Insomnia and lack of sleep also have negative effects on the brain. For example, they increase the risk of having Alzheimer’s disease.
“Studies underscore the importance of uninterrupted sleep in clearing brain toxins, including beta-amyloid peptides (suspected of playing a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, editor’s note)”explains the doctor.
She adds : “It is also important to treat obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome (OSAS), because poorly or not treated, it can increase the risk of cerebrovascular and/or cardiovascular disease as well as the risk of developing dementia. “
Exercise the mind to maintain memory
To have a brain at its best, you have to maintain it. To do this, do brain exercises (puzzles, sudokus, crosswords, etc.) to stimulate memory and concentration.
If you don’t like these types of activities, Dr. Porter suggests studying a new language, playing a musical instrument, learning to paint or learn to sew. Reading (newspaper, book, comics…) is also effective.
Stay active to “muscle” the brain
To strengthen your brain, play sports. “Exercise can slow down existing cognitive deterioration by stabilizing older brain connections (synapses) and help make new connections possible. Increasing physical activity through a combination of aerobic exercise is ideal. and bodybuilding“, says the expert.
Good news, it is, however, not necessary to turn into a semi-professional athlete to protect your brain. Studies have shown that 20 minutes of daily physical activity such as cleaning, walking to get bread or climbing stairs are already beneficial for brain health.
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