Fourteen ways to keep your brain healthy

An estimated 564,000 Canadians are living with dementia. The most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, accounts for 65 per cent of the problems people have with thinking. Rates of the disease are based mostly on age. By 85 years of age, 50 per cent of the population will have memory issues.  

Dr. Harry Zirk, Care of the Elderly Physician at the Grey Nuns Hospital, developed a list of 14 things you should do every day to keep your brain healthy as you age—a strategy that may help, and even improve, cognition.

1. Exercise

Do as much as you can.
  • Walk.
  • Lift weights.
  • Stretch.
  • Swim.
  • Join an exercise class.

2. Socialize

Interacting with others is important for your mental health.

  • Join a social group.
  • Visit people.
  • Go to church.
  • Volunteer.

3. Meditate and practise mindfulness

Mindfulness allows you to focus on something very specifically and calms the brain.

  • Practise yoga.
  • Colour for 20 minutes every day.
  • Watch a comedy show to relieve stress and tension.

4. Sleep

Try to sleep well every night. Have a paper and pen by your bed to write down things that concern you. If you’re tired during the day, take a nap.

5. Learn something new

Learning something new creates neurotransmitters and chemicals that help the rest of the brain function. Here are some things you might want to learn:

  • a new language
  • how to play an instrument
  • brain games like sudokus, puzzles or activity books
  • how to use the Internet
  • how to juggle three bean bags (This requires motor skills, thinking skills and hand-eye co-ordination all at the same time, making your brain work extra hard.)

6. Green Tea

Drink three cups of green tea per day. You can have one with every meal or make a pot in the morning and drink it throughout the day.

7. Omega-3 fatty acids

Take two capsules of DHA oil a day or eat fish two to three times a week.

8. Resveratrol

Resveratrol protects nerve cells from damage and the buildup of plaque that can lead to Alzheimer’s. Take two capsules a day.

9. Vitamin D3

Take a 2,000 mg to 4,000 mg tablet a day.

10. Vitamin B12

Take one tablet a day.

11. Probiotic

Take one tablet a day of a probiotic supplement like Align or Jamieson.

12. Coconut oil

Have two tablespoons in your oatmeal, with peanut butter on toast, or in cooking.

13. Melatonin

Take one 3 mg tablet at bedtime.

14. Rosemary

Burn essence of Rosemary Oil in your room.   

Dr. Zirk and his team launched this program in 2015 and will continue to monitor patients' cognition from this point forward.

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