Health

8 ways to improve brain health, cut dementia risk

Keep your brain strong and healthy to fight dementia

Have you been getting more forgetful lately, like misplacing things around the house or losing your train of thought?

If so, it might be time to work on improving your brain health to reduce your risk of dementia.

According to the Alzheimer's Disease Association, dementia is an illness that causes your brain cells to die at an accelerated rate.

This leads to an overall mental decline, where one experiences failing memory, poor intellectual function and personality changes.

Heed these tips from local healthcare start-up Senescence Life Sciences to combat brain ageing and reduce your risk of dementia.

BRUSH YOUR HAIR AND TEETH WITH NON-DOMINANT HAND

If you're a righty, switch to your left hand to brush your teeth. It may feel a bit weird at first, but you'll be encouraging the formation of new pathways in your brain as you "learn" to use your non-dominant hand.

EXERCISE WITH FRIENDS

Keeping physically active is great for your brain and has been shown to slow down cognitive decline. Make the most out of your workout time by combining your sweat session with socialising.

START A NEW BOOK, TAKE A BREAK FROM SCREEN TIME

There's a reason the telly is sometimes referred to as "mind-numbing".

In a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers followed over 3,000 adults over a 25-year period and found that those who watched more than three hours of TV a day had the poorest performance in various cognitive performance tests.

If you want to chill out, reach for a book instead, or limit the amount of screen time you get.

TAKE A DIFFERENT ROUTE TO WORK

Most days, we start off our mornings in exactly the same fashion. You wake up, wash up, grab your things and rush out of the house. You go to the exact same bus stop or MRT station and auto-pilot your way till you reach the office.

While familiarity is always comfortable, change things up once a week by taking a different route to work on your morning commute. This engages your brain by forcing it to think ahead and keep active.

VOLUNTEER

Look out for volunteer opportunities and champion a cause you believe in. Volunteering is not only good for your health, but it's also been shown to improve cognitive function.

In a recent study, senior participants who continuously volunteered were less likely to be prescribed anti-dementia treatment than those who didn't volunteer.

ENJOY THE OUTDOORS

There's nothing quite as simultaneously energising and relaxing as spending time amid nature. In a study published by the Natural England journal, it was shown that engaging in the natural environment either through walks or visiting parks was beneficial for dementia patients and their carers.

LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR STRESS

Stress has become such a big part of our lives that we may brush it off as normal. However, results from a 38-year longitudinal study found that middle-aged women who had long-standing stress had an increased risk of Alzheimer's.

While stress is inevitable, you can learn to manage yours by finding an outlet. This could be through meditation, exercise, music or even just socialising and sharing your problems with friends.

INDULGE IN SOME DARK CHOCOLATE

You don't need another reason to enjoy dark chocolate, but you can now dig in knowing that chocolate is now also recognised as a brain food.

Cocoa has a high amount of flavonoids which have been shown to slow down the development of Alzheimer's.

This article first appeared on www.shape.com.sg

MEDICAL & HEALTH