Sunday Mail - Body and Soul

HOW TO PROTECT AGAINST ALZHEIMER’S

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Pay attention

Most of the time you can’t remember something because you didn’t pay enough attention to it in the first place. We’re all so overloaded and constantly multitaski­ng, so when you put your glasses down and go do something else, you didn’t give your brain a chance to put that location into your memory. Also, our brains aren’t designed to remember things that aren’t meaningful or even surprising.

Get good sleep

You need seven to nine hours tonight to lock in the memories that you created today, so that tomorrow you’ll be alert and can pay attention to make new memories. You also clean up your brain while you sleep – in particular, amyloid beta, because if it piles up too much, you’re likely to get Alzheimer’s.

Manage your stress

Chronic stress is terrible for our memory. This is why people are telling you to meditate, do yoga or practise mindfulnes­s, so you can better handle your reaction to stress.

When we are chronicall­y stressed, our hippocampu­s – the part of the brain that consolidat­es new memories – will shrink.

Look after your cardiovasc­ular health

Everything that is good for your heart is good for your brain. So if you’ve got high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, or if you’re eating a bad diet, you’re going to increase your risk of getting Alzheimer’s one day.

Use cues

Pilots use checklists so they don’t forget to put the wheels down before landing the plane – they don’t rely on their brains to remember this. It’s really hard to remember what you intend to do later unless there’s a cue available to trigger the recall. People think there’s shame in a to-do list, but there isn’t – it’s just good sense. Remember by Lisa Genova is available now (Simon & Schuster Australia, $32.99).

Discover more ways to maintain a healthy brain at

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