These tips might help keep de­men­tia at bay

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

Men­tal ex­er­cise:

Keep­ing the brain ac­tive is es­sen­tial as we age. It is thought that men­tal ex­er­cises, such as puzzles and cross­words, stim­u­late the brain cells and pro­mote or strengthen neu­ral path­ways, pro­tect­ing against de­men­tia. The same brain re­sponse can be gained from learn­ing some­thing new – so if cross­words aren’t for you, think about learn­ing a new lan­guage or hobby. It will have the same ef­fect.

Look af­ter your heart:

The same risk fac­tors for heart dis­ease are as­so­ci­ated with de­men­tia, es­pe­cially the vas­cu­lar type of de­men­tia. So re­duc­ing your risk for heart dis­ease should have the added ben­e­fit of low­er­ing the like­li­hood of de­men­tia. The most im­por­tant changes are stop­ping smok­ing, and op­ti­mis­ing your blood pres­sure and choles­terol level. Talk to your doc­tor if you haven’t had these checked re­cently – they are easy but im­por­tant tests to get done.

Op­ti­mise your diet:

Fur­ther stud­ies are needed to as­cer­tain the ex­act ben­e­fits, but a healthy diet is im­por­tant for many rea­sons. It is thought that a Mediter­ranean style diet, rich in fish, fruit and veg­eta­bles, is good for the heart and the brain. Omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish are also found in some nuts, and are thought to be es­pe­cially im­por­tant when it comes to

cog­ni­tion and mem­ory.

Limit your al­co­hol in­take:

Although it has been pos­tu­lated for years that a small amount of al­co­hol can be pro­tec­tive for your brain, the jury is still out. What is cer­tain though is that reg­u­lar ex­ces­sive use of al­co­hol is dam­ag­ing to your mem­ory and men­tal func­tion­ing. Drink­ing over the rec­om­mended daily limit will also con­trib­ute to high blood pres­sure and raised choles­terol lev­els.

So­cialise:

Be­ing con­nected with the peo­ple around you is im­por­tant for your health and well-be­ing. It also pro­motes stim­u­la­tion of your brain cells, keep­ing your mind ac­tive. It is im­por­tant to note that there is no sin­gle recog­nised fac­tor that pre­vents or de­lays de­men­tia. Rather, a com­bined ap­proach that tar­gets a healthy lifestyle is es­sen­tial.

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