For Optimal Brain Health Do This!

There’s a general recipe for living well that includes regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking. Now, new research finds five factors that can also help support brain health and sharp thinking as you age,

The study, which was published in JAMA Neurologylooked at the autopsies of 586 people who lived to an average age of 91. Those study participants participated in the Rush Memory and Aging Project before their deaths, which involved them undergoing regular mental and physical tests, along with annual questionnaires on their lifestyles for more than 20 years.

The researchers found a direct link between healthy lifestyle habits and a lowered risk of cognitive decline as the participants got older—that was true, even in people who had hallmark signs of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Lead study author Klodian Dhana, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging, says his team wanted to see if certain factors could influence whether someone develops Alzheimer’s or dementia. “As individuals age, there is a progressive accumulation of dementia-related brain pathologies,” he says. However, not everyone goes on to develop dementia, despite these changes in the brain. The goal of the study, Dr. Dhana says, was to see if lifestyle factors would make a difference in how likely someone is to develop dementia.

Excerpted from Prevention

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