N is for Nutrition, and data from many studies have repeatedly supported a whole-food, plant-based diet as being protective for brain health in general, and Alzheimer’s and stroke in particular.
E is for Exercise. There is plenty of evidence that exercise protects the brain against Alzheimer’s. In a recent study, it was demonstrated that an intensive aerobic exercise regimen reduced one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 40%. Another study showed that a 6-month structured resistance-training program reversed cognitive impairment among 47% of patients with the beginning stages of dementia, i.e. they had normal scores on cognitive testing after participating in the exercise program.
U is for Unwind. This entails not only reducing ‘bad’, uncontrolled stress but also increasing ‘good’ (purpose-driven) stress. The concept of good stress stems from the fact that challenging and complex cognitive activities grow the brain and provide resilience, which confers protection and even if the brain is riddled with disease.
R is for Restorative Sleep. 7-8 hours of deep, restorative sleep is critical for continued brain health – it’s the ultimate brain cleanse and it’s during the deep stages of sleep that memories are formed and consolidated. Dysfunctional sleep or sleep apnea can increase one’s risk of dementia by as much as 70%.
O is for Optimizing Cognitive and Social Activity. One of our research studies, a meta-analysis on brain activities and Mild Cognitive Impairment indicated that complexity is central for building brain capacity at any age, which means that you won’t find brain vitality in contrived games, but rather in a complex, real life, and most importantly, in purpose-driven activities such as learning a musical instrument, learning a new language, leading a project, volunteering, or even things like playing cards and games with friends.