You know that one bad habit you know you need to give up, but you just haven’t found the motivation yet? Your brain health might depend on your willingness to quit. Your dementia risk increases if you maintain those poor health habits your doctor keeps mentioning — whether you want to believe it or not.
The good news is, reducing your risk isn’t hard. Here are a few things you can start doing right now to keep your brain in shape.
Drink raw juices
Investing in a juicer may seriously lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A Vanderbilt University study found that participants could cut their risk of developing the neurodegenerative disease by up to 76% by drinking raw fruit and veggie juices more than three times a week. Researchers know that fruit and vegetable juices contain polyphenols, which link to antioxidants found in plants and can protect the brain from developing Alzheimer’s.
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Learn a new language
Could learning a second, or even a third or fourth language decrease your dementia risk? Some experts suggest people who are bilingual develop dementia later than those who aren’t. This could be because switching between multiple languages requires constant mental stimulation — important for delaying or preventing cognitive decline. If you’ve always wanted to learn a second language, now’s the time.
There’s a reason you feel better after watching a comedy or repeating a joke to a friend. Laughter, according to Forbes, acts like a natural antidepressant. It’s also good for your brain as well as your heart. Because it keeps your brain active — your mind has to decode what others’ laughter means — laughing could help delay the cognitive decline associated with dementia and related diseases.
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Don’t drink too much alcohol
Your brain and alcohol aren’t friends. Some observational studies report even moderate alcohol consumption can contribute to cognitive decline in older adults. Again, it’s important to remember that reducing your alcohol consumption can benefit your health in more ways than one. Avoiding liver and brain damage, as well as heart problems, improves your chances of living longer — and healthier.
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Get better sleep
Research published in the journal Neurology suggests getting less REM sleep can increase your dementia risk. Experts believe REM sleep has a direct involvement in your brain’s memory storage and ability to learn and store new information. If you aren’t making sleep a priority, you could already be causing major damage to key areas of your brain associated with the development of dementia.
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You may not love getting up in the morning to work out, but it’s worth your while. According to the journal Translational Psychiatry, physical activity influences brain health as you age. Regular exercise, even as little as 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, can decrease your dementia risk. Keep your brain sharp and your body looking (and feeling) amazing.
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Eat more fruit
A healthy diet is as good for your brain as it is for your body. Some observational research highly suggests citrus fruits might protect certain older adults against cognitive decline and dementia. Overall, adding more fruit to your diet can improve your digestion, combat overeating, protect your cells as you age, and even extend your life.
Next: This activity improves your mental health and can slow the onset of dementia.
Smoking is bad for you. You already know this, even if you haven’t quit yet. Here’s another reason to consider giving up the habit: dementia. Your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, the most well-known form of dementia, increases the more you smoke. Even if you cut back only a little bit, you could save your brain a lot of irreversible damage.
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