Ways to Avoid Memory Loss Proven to Work
Memory loss is among the most feared symptoms associated with aging, because it can be associated with dementia, the progressive brain disease for which there is currently no cure. But experts say there are ways to improve your brain health and reduce your risk of dementia. You can start today, do them easily every day, and most won't cost you a cent. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
"We know that prolonged social isolation leads to memory loss, and that loneliness is a risk factor for cognitive decline, dementia and even death," wrote Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent. His advice: "Fight back against loneliness and remain socially engaged."
Eat a Brain-Healthy Diet
A healthy eating plan like the Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, can benefit your heart and brain. "These items aren't only linked to boosting the brain power of elderly people, but they've also been shown to be even more beneficial to your health than a low-fat diet by protecting against type 2 diabetes, preventing heart disease and stroke and reducing muscle weakness and frailty in aging bones," says Dr. Douglas Scharre, a neurologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Scientists have long known that exercise can benefit brain health, and the evidence keeps rolling in. A study published last week in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia found that exercise seems to boost levels of a protein that enables communication between brain cells, potentially preventing dementia. It doesn't take much movement to make a difference: A study published last November in the journal Scientific Reports found that only 10 minutes of moderate running boosts both mood and brain function, increasing blood flow to the prefrontal cortex—which regulates mood and "executive processing"—even after the activity was finished.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is "your (free) secret weapon to refresh and replenish tissues and cells — among them, those of the brain and immune system," explains Gupta. "It also rinses away waste and debris in the brain that can otherwise foment disease, and it strengthens your memories. After a good night's sleep, you wake up with a smarter body and a sharper mind, better able to deal with the day's stressors." Experts recommend seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. Gupta advises letting your brain wind down by avoiding screens for an hour before bed.
Keep Your Brain Active
"Just as physical activity helps keep your body in shape, mentally stimulating activities help keep your brain in shape—and might keep memory loss at bay," advises the Mayo Clinic. Play board games or word games, work puzzles or crosswords, read or listen to podcasts—anything to keep your brain stimulated. Even better: Learn a new skill, like a foreign language or how to play a musical instrument. The brain craves variety, and learning new things actually expands the network of blood vessels that nourishes it with oxygen and nutrients. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.