Maybe there will be a day where there is a good treatment available for Alzheimer’s or dementia, but I’m not going to sit back, cross my fingers and just hope it happens.
I’m making sure I live my life in a way that gives me the best chance at being healthy, happy and fit–both physically and mentally–until I’m 100 years old. I don’t know if I’m going to make it that long, but if I do, I know I want to enjoy it. There are 90 year old people playing tennis and hiking, and there are 70 year olds that get out of breath walking just a few blocks. Do you know which group you want to be part of?
Typically the chemical and neurological changes that lead to mental decline can be seen at least 10 years before any real symptoms. So, taking steps to prevent this decline as early as possible is really the key. Here are a list of strategies that have been shown to have a positive effect on the prevention of cognitive decline.
Exercise: There has been no other activity, food or pill that has proven to be as effective as daily physical activity. There is some debate about how much and how intense, but my rule for exercise holds up pretty well compared to the research. Rule: If you have a lot of time, use low intensity exercise like hiking, swimming and cycling. If you don’t have a lot of time (less than an hour) you get just as many benefits from intense activity.
Gut Health: If you experience, burping, belching, reflux, gas, bloat or bowel movement issues and you are not learning what the CAUSE of these symptoms are, then you are most likely adding stress to your brain through the connection of the Gut Brain Axis. You need to heal your gut.
Learning: Again, there’s some debate on the specifics here, but when we stop using our brain to learn new things, we lose our brains. Use it or lose it. The most important thing that we can work on are the things we suck at. Great at art and suck at math? Start doing some Sudoku. Great at crunching numbers but feel like you’ve lost your imagination? Take a photography class. I can come up with tons of scenarios here but for the purpose of this email, simply keep trying new things. If you still are bad at them after trying, keep doing them until you get better!
Meditation/Mindfulness: Our brains are simply way too stressed out. People who meditate daily learn the skill of concentration which we are losing in this electronic world of distractions.
Sleep: Let’s just make this simple–get at least 7.5 hours of sleep per night.
Watch this video to learn a lot more!