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5 Ways to Prevent Aging, Says Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Add these simple habits and stay young.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

To stay young, some say, you need to think young. And to think young, you literally need to consider your brain health. Cognitive decline is one of the most common—and destructive—factors associated with aging. But you can keep your brain vital and functional well into old age, by adding some simple habits to your routine, says CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, author of Keep Sharp, a recent book on that very topic. 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.

1

Exercise, Then Exercise Some More

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Regular exercise is the most important thing you can do for brain health, says Gupta. "Exercise, both aerobic and nonaerobic (strength training), is not only good for the body; it's even better for the brain," he writes in Keep Sharp. "Using sugar to fuel your muscles instead of sitting idle in your blood helps prevent dramatic glucose and insulin fluctuations … that increase the risk for dementia. Exercise also helps lower inflammation, and that is critical in preventing dementia." The ideal amount is at least 150 minutes a week, but research shows that as few as 11 minutes a day can increase your lifespan.

2

Eat a Healthy Diet

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"Clean living can slash your risk of developing a serious mind-destroying disorder, including Alzheimer's disease, even if you carry genetic risk factors," Gupta writes. He recommends consuming less red meat and processed foods and more fruits and vegetables. And one brain food in particular: "Berries, in terms of what they can do for the brain and some of these certain chemicals that they release, are probably going to be one of your best foods," said Gupta. 

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3

Get Enough Sleep

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"We're learning that the brain is constantly going through this 'rinse cycle' at night," clearing away debris and toxins, said Gupta. If you're dreaming in the morning before you wake up, it's a good sign your brain has been through this self-cleaning regimen. Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep a night. 

4

Cut This One Thing From Your Diet

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"Many well-designed studies have found that people with high blood sugar had a faster rate of cognitive decline than those with normal blood sugar," Gupta writes. He told Men's Health that when he cut added sugar from his diet, his "cognitive day"—the length of time a person can be productive—increased.

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5

Be Social

Two mature women in conversation while walking with bicycle at park. Happy beautiful senior women walking in the park with bicycles in a spring time. Friends holding bikes and talking to each other.
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Social interaction is a major predictor of neurogenesis, or the creation of new brain cells, which reduces the risk of dementia. "We know that social interaction is so critically important," said Gupta. "We are social creatures. We know that there are certain neurochemicals that are released when we actually can touch and look someone directly in the eye." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael