4 things you can do to fight dementia and improve your memory

There may not be a ‘magic pill’, but there are ways to stave off dementia and improve your brain health, according to a scientist.

Crosswords and Sudoku are great for stimulating the brain, but people also need to focus on their stress levels, sleep patterns, diet and exercise – even if it’s just a few steps fast around the block, said Marc Milstein, author of the new book “The Age-Proof Brain: New Strategies to Improve Memory, Protect Immunity and Fight Off Dementia” (published by BenBella Books). Milstein earned his Ph.D. in biological chemistry from UCLA, and studied genetics, neuroscience, infectious disease, and cancer biology.

In his book, Milstein breaks down the ways anyone can improve their memory and productivity, as well as “supercharge” the brain. These strategies can not only create healthier and happier lifestyles, but have the potential to fight non-genetic cognitive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

See: I Had Dementia For Five Minutes: Here’s What I Learned

Milstein spoke with MarketWatch about brain health misconceptions and simple ways to reduce the risk of developing dementia. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Market surveillance: What’s the biggest misconception about brain health?

Mark Milstein: The first is that it’s out of our control and it’s all genetic. It’s not a magic pill or a fad diet, but it’s about simple practical things that can reduce the risk of dementia.

MW: What are some ways to be proactive about brain health?

Milstein: What we realized is that it’s not just what happens in the brain, but how the brain reacts to the heart, the intestines, the immune system, the metabolism, diabetes…these are factors of risk. If we think about optimizing our sleep, our stress management, our exercise and our diet, these four elements go a long way to protecting the brain in the short and long term.

Don’t miss: Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: how to spot and prevent them

MW: What are the super-aged and what can we learn from them?

Milstein: Anyone over the age of 70, and what we’re seeing is that this group of people have the memory and the brain – if you take a picture of their brain – that looks decades younger. Some people have memories of being 25 years old. Their secrets are basically that they take advantage of all the factors we were talking about. They take care of their sleep, they manage their stress, they optimize their diet, they exercise. They are also very committed. Beyond these four things are social interactions. The key message is that it’s not just one thing.

Lily: When will we care about Alzheimer’s disease as much as COVID-19?

MW: Can you talk a bit more about the link between exercise and the brain?

Milstein: Exercise is as close to a magic pill as it gets. It helps us sleep, it helps us balance our immune system, it helps manage stress, it helps us have a healthy heart – it covers so many factors.

The good news is that it’s not about marathons or triathlons. What we see in brain health is the benefit of simple things like walking for 30 minutes. It is not necessary to do it at the same time. We also see when people walk, there are these fascinating studies of a pressure signal from the feet to the legs to coordinate their heart and brain connection. You don’t have to take brisk walks, but faster walks show a young brain. People can prioritize parking a little farther from the grocery store, get off the subway one stop, take an early morning walk.

MW: Can you start these habits at any age to improve your brain health?

Milstein: The brain is adaptable. For people starting in their 60s and 60s, and incorporating the things we’re talking about, they increase brain processing speed by 150%. But the roots of things like dementia begin decades before symptoms appear. We can do these things at any age we are now.

MW: What else do you think people should know about brain health?

Milstein: Another element is taking a moment to think about the environmental toxins in our food, air, and cleaning products. You don’t need to make massive changes, but ask yourself, what am I putting in my body? What types of products do I use? Make a conscious decision. I like to say we don’t have to make major changes – it’s the little things and being aware of how they can add up.

Also see: People Who Do This Thing Every Day Have Half the Risk of Dementia as the Rest of Us

MW: What is one thing people can do now to help themselves?

Milstein: First of all, be optimistic about the aging process, because believe it or not, a study shows that people who feel positive and optimistic about the aging process have a 48% lower risk of dementia. . We now know what we can do. We are not destined to lose our memory. Think of fun things – social engagement, dancing, singing, sports, games. Things that make us mentally and physically active. Even in times of stress, set aside time and make time for yourself to do fun things. It sounds like a bit of a silly message, but these things are important.

The last thing, if you’re looking for a change is in the morning, go for a little walk. Just 15-20 mins. We know that nature reduces stress levels and that walking reduces the risk of dementia, and we know that morning light helps us sleep that night. When you wake up, before starting your day, take a short walk around the block.

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