If you need motivation for those new year’s resolutions, here’s some: Research shows that what’s good for your body is good for your brain, too. That means you’ll be getting even more benefit out of eating better, getting active, and being social.
“We know that the same lifestyle changes that benefit physical health can benefit cognitive health as well,” said Breana Tucker, Alzheimer’s Association – Central and Western Kansas Program Director.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association Kansas chapter, more than 55,000 Kansans are estimated to be living with Alzheimer’s. That number is expected to grow exponentially over the next two decades, both because of the aging population and increased risk factors.
“Anything we can do to minimize those risk factors will help down the line,” Tucker said.
So, what can you do now to get more bang for your buck later?
- Eat less ultra-processed foods– Cutting out things like cookies, chips, soda and other junk foods can not only impact your waistline but your brain health as well. Research shows that diets high in ultra-processed foods have a 28% faster decline in cognitive scores.
- Get vaccinated– If you haven’t already gotten your flu shot here’s even more encouragement: Getting an annual flu vaccination was associated with a 40 percent decrease in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease over the next four years, according to researchers from The University of Texas’ McGovern Medical School who found that even a single flu vaccination could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 17 percent.
- Get vaccinated (part 2)– getting a vaccination against pneumonia between the ages of 65 and 75 reduced Alzheimer’s risk by up to 40 percent according to a Duke University’s Social Science Research Institute study.
- Get active– Physical exercise helps to maintain good blood flow to the brain and can reduce certain risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Get social– People who engage in regular social activities may maintain better brain health. Get involved in local library programs, faith community groups, the Red Hat Society, or activities at your local senior center. The Alzheimer’s Association offers classes for people with mild memory loss that can provide social activity along with mental stimulation.
The Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline also provides reliable information and support to all those who need assistance. Call the toll-free Helpline anytime at 800-272-3900 or visit www.alz.org for more information.