National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month: 3 Tips to Boost Your Brain Health
June is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, with a calendar of activities designed to raise awareness about the risk of a condition that affects more than 47 million people worldwide. If you have friends or loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer’s, you likely know the danger. It can cripple a person’s ability to function and enjoy life, and it can place a tremendous amount of stress - financial and emotional - on the individual’s supporters and loved ones. What you may not be aware of, though, is that there are steps you can take to reduce your vulnerability to the disease. It is true that genetics play a role in determining who gets Alzheimer’s and who doesn’t. However, there are other factors at play, many of which you can control. In fact, Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, has stated that some individuals may be able to reduce their Alzheimer’s risk by up to 80 percent simply by making healthy life choices. Below are three such steps you can take to reduce your risk.

Improve your diet

Any conversation about disease prevention almost certainly has to start with diet. What you put into your body has a tremendous impact on your overall health and your vulnerability to develop serious diseases, including Alzheimer’s. For Alzheimer’s prevention, many doctors and nutritionists recommend a diet that is heavy on fruits and vegetables. Healthy fruits and vegetables contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals that can help prevent cognitive decline. Fruits and vegetables are also great for staving off obesity, which can restrict blood flow to all parts of your body, including your brain. There have been numerous studies that have shown a direct link between obesity and Alzheimer’s. If you’re going to eat one fruit in particular, consider the blueberry. It has a number of vitamins and components that help boost memory. Also, regularly eat fish like salmon, tuna,  and mackerel. They have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce Alzheimer’s risk.


After you improve your diet, the next most effective step you can take is to exercise regularly. Exercise has a number of important benefits when it comes to cognitive health and Alzheimer’s prevention. First, it improves blood flow and oxygen flow throughout your body. That’s good for the brain, as greater flow of both elements prevents cognitive decline and cell deterioration. Exercise also helps prevent conditions that can lead to Alzheimer’s, such as heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. So how much do you need to exercise to see the benefits? Not as much as you may think. One study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Research found that you may only need 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise to have a sizable impact. That’s the equivalent of taking approximately a 20 minute walk every evening.

Take up an artistic hobby.

According to a recent study from the Mayo Clinic, taking up an artistic hobby can greatly reduce your likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s. The study followed more than 250 people ages 87 and older who had no signs of cognitive impairment. Four years later, nearly half of the participants did have impairment. However, the individuals who actively participated in arts and crafts were 73 percent less likely to have suffered a cognitive decline. While there is no definitive link between art and Alzheimer’s prevention, it is thought that artistic hobbies challenge the mind and force creativity. That may require the brain to work more efficiently, thus staving off any decline that may otherwise occur. Not sure which hobby you want to take up? Sign up for some classes at your local community college or senior center. The classes will likely be fun and they may even save your life. There are a number of other steps you can also take, including getting a full night’s sleep, playing “brain games” that stimulate your mind, and remaining socially active. All of these activities play a role in keeping your brain healthy and functional. If you’re looking to contribute to the fight against Alzheimer’s, consider participating in The Longest Day, which is a daylong nationwide event aimed at raising funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s treatment and research. You can join a group or form your own group or activity with your friends. Have fun and raise money for a great cause all at the same time. Learn more at the Alzheimer’s Association website.