WINNIPEG - With the help of brain research, there is hope that one day there will be a cure for dementia and other brain diseases and disorders. That’s why brain research is celebrated during Brain Awareness Week, which takes place this year from March 11 to 17.
At the Alzheimer Society, we promote brain health to help reduce the risk of developing dementia. There are lots of things you can do, including challenging yourself, being socially and physically active, eating a healthy diet and reducing stress in your life.
“The brain is one of your most vital organs. It plays a role in every action and every thought, and just like the rest of your body, it needs to be looked after,” says Wendy Schettler, CEO, Alzheimer Society of Manitoba.
Scientific evidence shows that 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day, whether it’s a brisk walk or taking dance lessons, helps lessen the risk of dementia. Physical activity of any kind pumps blood and oxygen to the brain which is important for brain functioning. An active lifestyle also builds up your cognitive reserve, and improves memory and thinking.
But don’t stop there. Combine physical activity with a healthy diet for added protection against dementia. Consuming nutrient-rich foods such as whole grains, dark leafy greens and fresh-water fish supports good cardiovascular health. It’s a well-known fact that heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure are contributing factors for vascular dementia.
Training your brain to learn new things in new ways also preserves brain cells and in some cases, can even help reverse some of the cognitive decline that occurs with age. Engaging in activities with others such as volunteering or participating in a book club is even better for keeping your brain in top form. Staying connected socially boosts mood and attitude, both important ingredients for well-being.
“There are no guarantees that making healthy lifestyle choices will prevent dementia, but it will help keep your brain as healthy as possible as you age,” says Schettler.
It’s never too late or too soon. The key is to make lifestyle changes that work for you. For practical tips and other resources, visit https://alzheimer.mb.ca/about-dementia/brain-health/.