"There is a lot we can do to keep our brains healthy and potentially prevent or lessen the cognitive decline that often comes with aging," Daniel Perry, executive director of the nonprofit Alliance for Aging Research, said in a prepared statement. "We are encouraging people to take steps to improve brain health as part of their overall fitness regimen for the New Year."
The Alliance for Aging Research recommends these 10 steps for improving your brain health.
* Eat a Brain-Healthy Diet. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (commonly found in fish), protein, antioxidants, fruits and vegetables and vitamin B; low in trans fats; and with an appropriate level of carbohydrates will help keep your brain healthy.
* Stay Mentally Active. Activities such as learning a new skill or language, working on crossword puzzles, taking classes, and learning how to dance can help challenge and maintain your mental functioning.
* Exercise Regularly. Exercising often can increase circulation, improve coordination, and help prevent conditions that increase the risk of dementia such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
* Stay Social. Spending time with friends, volunteering, and traveling can keep your mind active and healthy.
* Get Plenty of Sleep. Not getting enough sleep can have a negative impact on brain health.
* Manage Stress. Participating in yoga, spending time with friends, or doing other stress-relieving activities can help preserve your ability to remember and learn.
* Prevent Brain Injury. Wearing protective head gear and seat belts can help you avoid head injury, which has been associated with an increased risk of dementia.
* Control Other Health Conditions. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet, and controlling stress can help reduce your risk of diseases that affect your brain, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and hypertension.
* Avoid Unhealthy Habits. Smoking, heavy drinking and use of recreational drugs can increase the risk of dementia and cognitive decline.
* Consider Your Genes. If your family history puts you at risk for developing dementia, work with your doctor to find ways to maintain your brain health to help avoid or slow the progression of cognitive decline.