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    Brain Health

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | April 28th, 2024

    Brain Health

    I have always thought the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) was for people over 50. I received my AARP card at age 50. Little did I know that you can join as early as 18. When you join, you get access to their magazines and bulletins. Although most of the information is geared toward people over 50, if one is provided with the information before 50, it can be helpful to stave off some diseases. 

    This month’s AARP Bulletin has a special report titled, The Future of Alzheimer’s – Why Doctors Have – New Hope about the Disease and What That Means for You. I was particularly interested in the Smart Brain Health Tips section. I believe these tips are worth knowing and implementing at any age. It was great to read that the percentage of Americans age 65-plus with dementia, including Alzheimer’s, fell 30 percent from 2000 to 2016. It is thought that all the work we have been doing to prevent heart disease and stroke may be related to lowering the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

    Here are some smart brain health tips listed in the AARP Bulletin:

    STOP SMOKING Smoking does not only affect your lungs. It can also affect your brain. It causes inflammation of the blood vessels, leading to cognitive decline. Call -1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to help with quitting.

    KEEP BLOOD PRESSURE AND SUGAR LEVELS HEALTHY—Uncontrolled blood pressure or diabetes can harm brain cells. It can cause damage to the blood vessels in the brain and inflammation, which can lead to the growth of Alzheimer’s plaques and tangles. Everyone who has high blood pressure should own a blood pressure cuff. Work with your healthcare provider to discuss goals.

    GET REGULAR EXERCISE—Staying active can reduce the risk of all types of dementia by 28 % and Alzheimer’s by 45 %. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, reduces inflammation, helps control blood sugar and blood pressure, and helps brain cells become more resilient.

    EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES—Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which help protect the brain from the damage caused by inflammation.  

    TAKE A DAILY MULTIVITAMIN—A study published in 2023 showed that taking a daily vitamin had beneficial effects on thinking, reasoning, and memory. A multivitamin is not a substitute for healthy eating but provides reassurance that you are getting the necessary vitamins.

    TAKE CARE OF YOUR EARS AND EYES – When you have hearing and vision loss, it can increase your risk of having problems with the brain by about 20 – 50%. Get your vision and hearing screened annually. You should not be embarrassed to use a hearing aid if you need one.

    PAMPER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH – Chronic stress, depression, anxiety, and loneliness can negatively affect brain function. Please seek help with a mental health specialist if you need assistance. Find ways to socialize with friends and family. You can be part of a spiritual community, join a book club, or volunteer with a group of friends. The list is endless. 

    PUT YOURSELF ON A REGULAR SLEEP SCHEDULE—Sleep is essential. We need to rest and rejuvenate. This is the time when fluid and waste flow out of the brain. Try to get at least 6 hours of sleep.

    We can reduce our risk of dementia/Alzheimer’s. We do not have to wait until we are 50 years old. We can start wherever we are.

    For more information – AARP Bulletin,  March 2024, Vol 65. No. 2

    One Response to “Brain Health”

    1. Linda K. Jackson says:

      As usual, pearls of wisdom that you continue to share with us! Thank you! (Any thoughts of you publishing a book regarding your journey on learning about various fruits? I will be waiting with bated breath for one)!!!!

    Leave a Reply

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