QUESTION: I keep hearing that our lifestyle can affect our memory. Can diet and exercise really help our memory and prevent dementia?
ANSWER: I wish I had the perfect answer that by changing your diet and exercising more you could prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Unfortunately, we still have no sure way to prevent or cure these diseases. However, diet and lifestyle can increase your risk factors for getting dementia. For this reason, it is important to be mindful about what you are eating and how you are managing your health.
There are several areas you can improve to help with your overall brain health. These include learning something new, getting enough sleep, improving your diet, increasing exercise and meditating. Including these areas in your daily life can also add to your fun and improve your mood.
Sign up for a new class and learn about something new. The Parks and Recreation departments offer lots of wonderful and fun learning opportunities. Check your local senior center and see what they have going on! Learning a new hobby has been shown to improve brain functioning.
Sleep plays an important role in the way our brain functions as well. Research shows that a chronic lack of sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, increases the risk of disorders including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. You should aim for at least six hours of sleep a night. Try creating a soothing bedtime routine to set yourself up for a successful night. Don’t watch TV right before bed. Try listening to soothing music instead.
Eating a healthy diet has been shown to be very beneficial to your brain and your overall health. Studies show the MIND diet reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. It includes 10 healthy foods to include in your diet and 5 to avoid. Among those to include are green leafy vegetables, nuts and berries, olive oil and whole grains. Food to avoid or limit include butter, cheese, red meat, fried foods and sweets. The key is to include at least some of these changes. Studies showed that even only partially following this diet made improvements to the brain.
You probably already know that exercising is important for your health. Exercise may directly benefit brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain. Socialization is also one of the best things you can do for brain health! Grab a friend and get moving!
The last area you can add to your daily routine is meditation. Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on an object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. The practice appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits – from changes in grey matter volume to enhanced connectivity between brain regions. There are even websites and Apps for your phone that will guide you through meditations. Try one and start slow. Even 10 minutes a day can make a big difference!
These are some ideas on ways to improve your brain health. Pick one to start with and try incorporating some of the ideas. You don’t have to be perfect at it! Just know that making small changes in your daily lifestyle can have lasting effects on your overall health.
Holiday Open House at Stagecoach Inn Museum Newbury Park
Sunday, December 8, 1pm – 4pm
Stagecoach Inn Museum: 51 S Ventu Park Rd, Newbury Park, CA 91320
Join in a celebration of the traditions of Christmas and Hanukkah with beautiful decorations throughout the Stagecoach Inn Museum complex Two local musical groups entertain with sounds of the holidays, while Charles Dickens shares his tales. AND more! Wrap up your visit with cookies and hot cider in Anderson Hall. Free admission is our gift to the community!
Senior Expert Panel
Tuesday, December 10th 4pm – 5:30pm
Senior Concerns – 401 Hodencamp Rd. Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
Come and hear a panel of experts discuss issues pertaining to real estate (including the pros and cons of selling your home and more about reverse mortgages) and financial information.
For reservations call 805-497-0189
Free Produce Day
Thursday, December 12th 11am – 1pm
The Camarillo Health Care District, in partnership with FOOD Share, hosts a free “Produce Day” on the 2nd Thursday of each month, from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., at District offices located at 3639 E. Las Posas Road, Suite 117, in Camarillo. Participants can select, at no charge, from a variety of seasonal produce items. Produce is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Bring your own bag.