The ability to understand and acquire knowledge is protected by a healthy diet, regular exercise, vitamin D consumption, and participation in social activities.
Screenplay: Anne-Marie Stevens, Tereem Khan
Media Contact: Anna Jones
According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, dementia begins to affect 10 million people each year, and the number of people with dementia is only increasing. But there are ways to improve brain health and prevent at least some of the complications associated with aging, dementia, and similar conditions.
The Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham wants to help patients learn more about the relationship between brain health and lifestyle. The effort is supported by the Department of Family and Community Health Clinics and the UAB Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute.
Sameera Davuluri, M.D., assistant professor and medical director of the Family Medicine Clinic at UAB Hoover Primary Care, offers advice on how to keep your brain healthy.
Diet is an important factor that influences overall health. According to Davuluri, certain foods that are good for your heart are good for your brain.
“There is no single food that is key to brain health, and there is no evidence that eating or avoiding one particular food can prevent cognitive decline,” Davuluri said. But patients need to focus on healthy food combinations throughout their lives to strengthen their minds and bodies.”
Following diets such as the Mediterranean diet, the Diet to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and a combination of the two called the MIND diet can help improve brain health. The MIND diet includes leafy greens and other vegetables, berries, whole grains, fish once a week, chicken twice a week, and beans, nuts, and olive oil as edible fats. Both the Mediterranean and MIND diets allow moderate amounts of wine.
Davuluri suggests watching your alcohol consumption and limiting pastries, processed foods, red meat, full-fat dairy, and salt. She also suggests eating fish, as it is the most powerful factor influencing higher cognitive function and slower decline.
“Diets high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are beneficial in improving brain health, reducing risk factors for stroke and heart disease,” says Davuluri. “There are no vitamins or supplements that have been shown to prevent cognitive decline. Certain conditions and vitamin deficiencies (B12 and folic acid) that can cause cognitive decline are reversible, so always check with your doctor. Consult: It’s never too late to start eating healthy and making small practical changes that are sustainable.”
For more specific recommendations regarding daily alcohol intake, consult your primary health care provider or visit the 2015-2022 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says regular physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and is good for your brain as well as your muscles and bones.
According to Davuluri, several studies have linked aerobic exercise to cognitive improvements.
“Most adults should get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, which can be broken down in 30 minutes a day, five days a week,” says Davuluri. “This doesn’t have to happen all at once, it can only happen at the gym. Try incorporating activities into your daily routine, like walking the dog or moving your body while watching TV.”
Getting involved in social activities and communities is good for your mental health as well as your brain health.
“Social activity reduces isolation, improves well-being, and improves cognition,” Davuluri said. Challenge yourself intellectually: get enough sleep, live a normal life, and focus on eating healthy.”
take a vitamin d supplement
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally available in certain foods, fortified in other foods, or used as an over-the-counter supplement.
“Vitamin D is primarily responsible for promoting calcium balance in the body and helping to strengthen bones.”It also has other roles, such as reducing inflammation and regulating immune function. We don’t have enough information to find a correlation with brain health.”