Five Tips for a Healthy Brain

By Elizabeth Carrillo, Project Coordinator, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR

latinosandalzheimers_blog_ENGThis Sunday, September 21, is World Alzheimer’s Day. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is a progressive brain disorder that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. It affects over 5 million Americans today, mostly those aged 65 and older. Latinos are 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s but are less likely to recognize the 10 signs and symptoms, often resulting in a diagnosis at a later stage of the disease. Some risk factors, such as age and family history, cannot be controlled, but luckily there are certain steps you can take to maintain a healthy brain and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. This month is also Healthy Aging Month, so start applying these tips today!

5 Tips for a Healthy Brain

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  1. Stay physically healthy. Physical exercise is essential for maintaining good blood flow to the brain and reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and obesity, all risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, avoid tobacco and excess alcohol.
  1. Adopt brain-healthy eating. Consume foods low in salt, fat, and cholesterol. Use olive, grape seed, or canola oil instead of margarine or corn oil. Try baking or grilling instead of frying. Dark-skinned vegetables and fruits, such as spinach, broccoli, red bell pepper, purple onion, plums, berries, oranges, and cherries are good for the brain. Make nuts like almonds and walnuts, and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, trout, and tuna, part of your nutrition.
  1. Remain mentally active. Keeping the brain active may build up brain cells and connections that help maintain it strong and healthy. Commit to life-long learning. Read, write, and work on puzzles. Learn a new skill or volunteer at a local community center, school, or church. Build and maintain a personal or community garden. Play new games that involve strategizing, like chess or dominoes.
  1. Remain active. Engaging in sports, cultural activities, dancing, emotional support, and close personal relationships are protective against Alzheimer’s. Maintain close relationships with family and friends, join a local community club or center, and participate in social gatherings!
  1. Ensure adequate vitamin intake. Studies have shown that some vitamins, like E, D, C, B12, and folate, may be important in lowering your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Consult your doctor before taking vitamins.

Our short videos below offer some insight into one Latino family’s experience with Alzheimer’s.

(video in Spanish)

(video with English subtitles)

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