On behalf of, and with our thanks to George Mears
Brain fitness expert, educator, and counselor
Build Your Brain Muscle with These Mental Fitness Tips
Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Lotte Meijer
Just a few months ago, scientists announced they’d been able to reverse memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients for the first time ever. This is groundbreaking news for the millions of patients and families who are affected by this devastating disease. Alzheimer’s is currently the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. It creates difficulty with performing daily tasks, maintaining independence, and holding a steady job. Thanks to recent developments, many people are now finding hope for preventing and even reversing its symptoms.
The most promising result of the 2016 study: all of the Alzheimer’s patients were able to return to their jobs or continue working, offering hope that Alzheimer’s memory loss can truly be reversed and even sustained long-term. Most patients saw results within just a few months, and some patients were able to sustain their memory reversal for up to two years.
How did the patients achieve these incredible results against all odds? According to the scientific journal Aging, the patients were placed on a highly customized combination of diet, medication and lifestyle changes specifically created to improve memory.
Even if you don’t have access to take part in an Alzheimer’s disease study, there are still some things you can do to boost your brain health. Here are some lifestyle adjustments that have been scientifically proven to be beneficial to your brain:
The 2016, which was conducted in collaboration between the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the UCLA Easton Laboratories for Neurodegenerative Disease, used optimal sleep as one of the key components for restoring memory. We already know that restorative sleep is crucial for maintaining healthy long-term memory, and a 2015 study from UC Berkeley also linked a brain protein with the sleep cycle and memory. As these studies all suggest, sleep is important to brain and memory health.
Although we’re still searching for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, multiple studies have shown that even moderate amounts of exercise can help slow the progression of this dreaded disease. It may even be possible to prevent Alzheimer’s disease altogether, even in those who have a genetic predisposition. If you want to increase your chances of preventing Alzheimer’s, especially if it runs in your family, be sure to incorporate some form of movement into your daily life. Quit smoking and increase your exercise to boost your physical, mental and emotional health.
The 2016 study used a customized daily vitamin regimen along with daily medications to help reduce memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamins are a good idea for anyone, regardless of health condition or Alzheimer’s risk, and Alzheimers.net even lists Vitamin K as having a “vital role” in Alzheimer’s prevention. This might be because Vitamin K helps regulate calcium in the brain, although the link is not yet understood. In addition to taking vitamins, you can also boost your intake of Vitamin K and other healthy nutrients by including more leafy greens, fish and eggs in your daily diet.
We already know that it’s important to eat a balanced diet each day. The Rush University Medical Center in Chicago has also developed a specific dietary protocol for Alzheimer’s patients. This customized diet combines the popular Mediterranean and DASH diets. In addition to the foods listed above, researchers recommend eating lots of berries, nuts, beans, whole grains and healthy fats. Foods to avoid include red meat, cheese, butter, margarine, fried foods or fast foods, pastries and sweets, and alcohol (other than a maximum of just one glass of red wine per day).
Although more studies are still needed, recent developments do provide hope that it might indeed be possible to prevent and completely reverse Alzheimer’s and dementia. If that turns out to be the case, this could potentially allow more grandparents to hold their grandbabies, more husbands and wives to grow old together, and more people to enjoy their golden years to the fullest.
Go ahead and try some of these great activities, and throw in some brain-boosting games to boost your mental health this winter - or any other time of the year. It certainly won’t hurt your brain. In fact, if these studies are any indication, it might even prove to have long-lasting health benefits for years to come.
George Mears is a brain fitness expert, educator, and counselor. One of his primary areas of study is neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change and improve over one’s lifetime. He believes in the power of games, puzzles, memory activities, and other brain boosting practices to encourage brain plasticity and minimize brain health deterioration and shares his thoughts and favorite brain fitness exercises at BrainWellness.info.