Did you know that dementia is one of the fastest growing illnesses in the world?
At present 35.6 million people suffer from some form of the disease globally. The alarming thing is that statistic is set to double by 2020 and triple by 2050. It is said there is a new case of dementia every four seconds.
You do not want to be in that statistic!
However, not all dementia is the same. Two people can have the “disease” but only one goes on to manifest the symptoms. Having the pathology doesn’t mean a person will necessarily express the disease. In other words it can lie dormant in one person, not appearing until very late in life, if at all.
Why is this?
Well, it really comes down to maintaining a healthy brain and this depends on how well we are educated about the brain.
So, today we’re going to look at a few simple things we can do to ensure our brain is healthy and dementia is kept at bay.
Lots of fish, salads, olive oil. Adds years to neuronal life.
Exercise releases a chemical called EDMF into the brain which can help the hippocampus to grow. Remember last time we noted that a large hippocampus is what you want. In people with dementia the hippocampus is shrunken.
I don’t recommended you buy the really expensive ones on line, ordinary word games, puzzles, etc., are just as good and won’t set you back as much. In this area it’s hard to beat the crossword in your daily newspaper.
Apparently learning a new language beats all other brain-building techniques hands down as it utilises every part of the brain; comprehension, memory, speech, etc. And you’ll be able to communicate with more people into the bargain.
When we read something we wouldn’t normally we stretch the brain a little. It’s like reading outside our comfort zone. So don’t just stick with the familiar, read something different. You’ll also learn new vocabulary which helps with no. 4 above.
A good rule of thumb is “what is good for the heart is good for the brain”, and walking is very good for both. Do it regularly.
Yes, you heard me correctly. Alcohol gets a lot of stick these days but in moderation it’s good for both heart and brain, especially red wine. I do stress moderation. A bottle is not a glass!!
There is probably no better ward against dementia than having and maintaining a good social life. That means actively engaging in conversation with people regularly (real conversation not just gossip). Get out and meet people and discuss all the affairs of the day (over a little of no. 7 (tee! hee!))
Yes, it’s been proven the old down below is good for the up above. So have lots of sex often. (I knew that would cheer you up!)
We covered the many benefits of this here.
Good for building new neurons.
Contrary to popular opinion the brain doesn’t grow by doing mental things (i.e. reading) only, it actually needs a physiological input too. That means you need to be actively engaging your hands as well as your head. Reading alone doesn’t cut it. Be creative, do something with your hands.
It doesn’t have to be super scary like jumping out of an aeroplane, just something that’s a little uncomfortable and will get you out of your comfort zone. Faced with a new challenge the brain has no option but to create new neurons. A brain with lots of new neurons is a healthy one. You do the math!
I know we’re all creatures of habit and we probably need a certain amount of routine to function effectively, or at all. But doing the same thing day in day out makes the brain lazy and turns routine into rut. Try changing aspects of your routine, or do it in a new way. For example, take a different route home from work than you usually do. A little change can make a big difference.
Yes apparent when we smile we ‘force’ our brain to be happy, which produces more happy chemicals, which in turn grows strong healthy neurons. Try this: think about something really depressing and try smiling at the same time. You’ll find it’s impossible! This speaks volumes for lots of things, because it also means if you’re unhappy putting on a big smile will actually change your mood. I’m not sure if there’s a direct correlation between smiling and lowering dementia, but at least you won’t come across as a miserable bastard!
I think any kind of music is good but research has shown that listening to classical music, particular Mozart, can increase neuronal growth. Even if you’re not into it a little bit a day playing in the background can help.
Take up painting, gardening, anything that is not directly work related but still stimulates the mind. Remember no. 12.
It has been proven that people with a hobby live longer and in general have a more inquisitive brain. You bet they have more fun too!
The more time we spend in nature the more at ease and peaceful we feel. All very good for the brain. It doesn’t mean you have to move lock, stock and barrel to the country, I find the city can offer great places to escape to nature, such as parks, canals, riverside walks, etc.
This is not a joke (or me trying to fill up the page to reach 20!) Research has actually shown that when people are hugged and cuddled a lot they thrive and the brain thrives too. Why do animals lick their young? It’s instinctive. Research on mice in the lab showed that when they were denied this nurturing at birth they died. The brain releases really powerful neurotransmitters such as noradrenalin and serotonin, as well as beta-endorphins in response to the stimuli of love and togetherness. So get lots a hugs!!
So there you have it. That’s how you beat dementia before it even begins to get a grip: by taking life with gusto, thinking happy thoughts and having fun. And, even if you’re in the early stages of dementia by doing these things research shows it can be reversed.
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