15 Mar Can Baby Boomers Prevent Cognitive Decline?
Baby boomers (those born between 1946-1964) may be able to help prevent cognitive decline as they age. Cognition includes many important functions of the brain. These include memory, judgement, language, intuition and the ability to learn. Fortunately, unlike age and genetics, which can’t be controlled, you can make healthy lifestyle choices which can have a positive effect on your overall health. And a healthy lifestyle may even help prevent cognitive decline as you age.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is currently conducting research in over 30 clinical trials investigating possible ways to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease or age-related cognitive decline. So far there are no definitive studies showing that health or lifestyle factors can prevent or slow Alzheimer’s disease or age-related cognitive decline. Additionally, clinical trial results do not show that any particular medication or dietary supplement will prevent these conditions. However, early research shows some promising steps baby boomers can take now to help protect brain health in the future.
HOW TO HELP PREVENT COGNITIVE DECLINE
Exercise and physical activity. Studies on animals show exercise increases both the number of small blood vessels that supply blood to the brain and the number of connections between nerve cells in older rats and mice. In addition, researchers have found that exercise raises the level of a nerve growth factor (a protein key to brain health) in an area of the brain that is important to memory and learning. Furthermore, research has shown that exercise can stimulate brain connections.
Maintain a healthy diet. Studies have shown that a diet rich in vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables and broccoli, can reduce the rate of cognitive decline. NIH reports that people who eat a Mediterranean diet had a 28% lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. This diet includes vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, fish, olive oil, moderate amounts of alcohol and low amounts of saturated fats, dairy products, meat and poultry.
Prevent or control chronic conditions. Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity may increase the risk of cognitive decline.
Keep your brain active. Observational studies show that keeping your brain active lowers your risk of cognitive decline. Learn a new language or musical instrument, play board games or cards, work a crossword puzzle, drive a different route to and from your usual destinations.
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