What You Can Do for Brain Health

What You Can Do for Brain Health

10/20/15 Laura Gibbons

While the thought of diminished brain health is frightening, there is something you can do about it!

Possible risks or threats to brain health

  • Some medicines or improper use of them
  • Smoking
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems
  • Poor diet
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Little social activity and being alone most of the time

What you can do to protect brain health
Focus on the following five key areas to boost brain health:

Take care of your health

  • Get the recommended health screenings suggested for your age
  • Manage health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
  • Consult with your health care provider to make sure your medicines are right for you
  • Reduce risk for brain injuries due to falls and other types of accidents
  • Quit smoking

Eat healthy foods

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean meats, fish, and poultry
  • Low-fat or non-fat dairy products
  • Less solid fat, sugar, and salt
  • Proper portion sizes
  • Adequate fluids

Get moving

  • Physical activity may reduce risks of diabetes, heart disease, depression, and stroke
  • Prevent injuries
  • Improve connections among brain cells
  • Get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. Move about 30 minutes on most days
  • Walking is a good start
  • Join programs that can help you learn to move
  • Check with your health care provider if you haven’t been active and want to start a vigorous exercise program
  • Not doing physical activity can be bad for you, no matter your age or health condition

Keep your mind active

  • Do mentally stimulating activities
  • Read books and magazines
  • Play games
  • Learn new things
  • Take or teach a class
  • Be social through work or volunteering
  • Clinical trials have not proven that these types of activities will prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but they can be fun

Stay connected

  • People who have meaningful activities, like volunteering, say they feel happier and healthier
  • Social activities are linked to reduced risk for some health problems, including dementia

What can you do today?

  • Pick one thing you can do that may help your brain
  • Think of small first steps, such as:
    • Taking a 10-minute walk a few times a week
    • Adding one serving of vegetables each day
    • Making an appointment for health screenings or a physical exam
    • Write down what you will do and when.
    • Get support from family, friends, or community groups


U.S. Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging. (2014). In Brain health as you age: Educator guide. Retrieved September 9, 2015, from http://www.nia.nih.gov/

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