Alzheimer’s is currently the biggest killer of women in the UK (causing three times more deaths than breast cancer) and the third biggest killer for men. Just as your body needs regular exercise; your brain also needs regular exercise in order to keep it protected. So we’ve asked the experts about what to include in the ultimate brain workout, which could help protect against the development of Alzheimer’s.
- Reconnect with Old Friends
A catch up with friends is not only enjoyable but new research suggests that it could also be beneficial to your health. The research has shown that maintaining relationships with friends as we age may help to ward off neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia, and contribute to keeping the brain young. *
- Get those dancing shoes on
Brain exercises don’t always come in the form of pen and paper, Dr. Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Solutions for Dementia and Alzheimer’s (www.marilynglenville.com) explains, “Taking up line dancing fires up new neural pathways that keep your brain in touch. Needing to remember the steps in a dance is also a wonderful workout for your brain – learning the flow and rhythm of the music stimulates cognitive activity, while learning and performing the steps is great for both your memory and your physical fitness.”
- Combine Supplements
“Taking a programme of supplements that gives you specific combinations of nutrients is often more effective than taking a few individual nutrients, because nutrients work not only individually, but synergistically with each other. In effect, a combined supplement programme is greater than the sum of its parts.”
“I would recommend a supplement I use in my clinic called Advanced Brain and Memory Support [£34.78, www.naturalhealthpractice.com] which provides a specific mix of nutrients aimed at supporting brain and memory function,” explains Dr. Glenville.
- Join a Book Club
According to research by The Global Council for Brain Health, joining a book club is a great way to build brain strength in old age. This is due to the fact that acts of participating in a book club, by reading, analysing and discussing are all cognitively stimulating activities that can help to keep the brain young and protected from conditions such as dementia. **
- Sleep like a log
“While we are sleeping, particularly during non REM phase (the lighter stage of the sleep cycle), our body reactivates neurons that were active while learning a motor task, helping to aid long term storage of new memories. When sleep is disrupted this process does not occur. So if you have learnt something new and you want to improve your chances of remembering it, make sure you get some shuteye. Try Natures Plus KalmAssure Magnesium Powder, now in Pink Lemonade, (£22.50, www.naturesplus.co.uk) taken in the evening or before bed, to provide your body with healthy magnesium levels, which will assist in better sleeping patterns,” explains Cassandra.
- Oil up those cogs (with fish oil of course)
Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in oily fish such as salmon and sardines, have been found to help protect and boost brain capacity. Research from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that Omega-3 fatty acids can help boost blood flow in specific areas of the brain important for learning, memory, depression and dementia. ***
“Your brain is 70% fat and it incorporates whatever fats you eat into its cell membranes, aiming to keep the cells flexible and properly functioning. DHA, which is the most abundant omega-3 in the brain can improve cerebral blood flow and reduce inflammation, making it important in the fight against Alzheimer’s and dementia. To make sure you’re getting enough Omega-3 in your diet try and have at least 3 portions of oily fish a week and take a supplement such as Natural Health Practice’s Omega 3 Support [£29.77, www.naturalhealthpractice.com],” adds Dr Glenville.