By Maria Shriver
The first groundbreaking Move for Minds event brought together leading brain experts from around the country both to dispel the myths that there is nothing a person can do to prevent Alzheimer’s, and to highlight just how much can be done to prevent, or slow, memory loss and the disease in many cases. Healthy lifestyle choices, starting from a young age, can make a big difference. Even adjusting lifestyle at older ages can still have a positive impact on fighting the disease.
Here are their expert tips for an empowered brain:
- Dr. Daniel Amen, Psychiatrist and Founder of Amen Clinics, Author
Protect your brain. Avoid direct impact like heading a soccer ball.
Sleep. Try to get 7-8 hours every night.
Exercise. Engage in physical activity at least 4 times a week.
2. Dr. Dale Bredesen, Director of Neurodegenerative Disease Research, UCLA
Bermuda Food Triangle. Avoid the “Ber-food-a Triangle” — the damaging combination of simple carbohydrates, saturated fats, and low fiber intakes.
Daily fast. Fast for 12-16 hours from the last meal in the evening until the first meal the next day, and for at least three hours before bed. This cleanses the brain.
Brain-predictive blood values. Know your brain-predictive blood values, including homocysteine, fasting insulin, hemoglobin A1c, Vitamin D, and hs-CRP.
3. Dr. Roberta Brinton, Expert in Neurodegenerative Diseases
Hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is appropriate for treating symptoms of perimenopause and menopause such as hot flashes, insomnia, depression, and cognitive dysfunction. Hormone therapy is not effective many years past menopause and when there are no symptoms of menopause.
Vitamins. Individuals should take Vitamin D to reduce inflammation and B Vitamins including folic acid to aid metabolism.
4. CC Donavan, Director of Education for the Brain Health and Wellness Center
Vegetables. Increase your intakes of plant-based foods to help reduce blood fat levels, regulate blood sugar and reduce inflammation.
Fruits. Aim for 3-5 servings for fruit per day. Choose whole fruits over juices to boost fiber intake.
Omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids make up a major part of our brain cells but can only be ingested, not made by our bodies. Sources of Omega-3s including fish, fish oils, green leafy vegetables, walnuts, and chia, hemp and flax seeds.
5. Dr. Keith Fargo, Director of Scientific Programs & Outreach, Alzheimer’s Association
Cardio exercise. Engage in regular cardio exercise that elevates heart rate and increases blood flow.
Quit smoking. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of cognitive decline to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
Healthy Heart, Healthy Brain. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes negatively impact your cognitive health.
6. Risa Groux, Holistic Nutritionist
Fresh foods. Enjoy a varied diet that includes non-processed, organic foods.
Healthy fats. Healthy fats are vital to brain function and Alzheimer’s prevention. Sources of healthy fats include avocados, butter, egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, raw nuts and nut oils, and grass-fed meats.
Stabilize blood sugar. Decrease inflammation and stabilize blood sugar naturally by adding turmeric, ginger and cinnamon to your meals.
7. Dr. Richard Issacson, Nutrition Expert, Author The Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Diet
Fats. Certain fats are essential in protecting against memory loss, specifically polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. There are brain-healthy fats in olive oil and fish like wild salmon, albacore tuna, lake trout, sardines and mackerel.
Clinical trials. Alzheimer’s prevention clinical trials are currently underway for both early-onset (genetic) and late onset disease. To learn more about getting involved in a study, visit http://www.alzu.org.
8. Max Lugavere, Filmmaker, Media Personality
Try something new. Leave your comfort zone. The brain thrives in novel environments and under new situations.
Stop stressing. Banish chronic stress with the help of meditation.
Eat chocolate. Eat dark chocolate with a cacao content of 80+%. It enhances blood flow to the brain, and improves memory function and athletic performance.
9. Rebecca Pacheco, Equinox Sports Club Star Yoga Instructor and Author of Do Your Om Thing
Beat stress with your breath. Our breath is the easiest, cheapest, and most portable tool we have to reduce stress each day. Combat anxiety by evenly matching the length of your inhale to that of your exhale.
Remember to recharge. Legs-up-the-wall pose is one of the lights-out, best-on-earth ways to revitalize a tired body and boost your brain power. Simply recline comfortably on the floor with both legs resting on a nearby wall.
10. Dr. Pamela Peeke, Host of HER radio, Author of New York Times bestsellers Body for Life for Women and The Hunger Fix
Stand up. Stand up as much as you can throughout your day to stimulate the growth of new brain cells.
Relax. Close your eyes, rest your mind and rejuvenate your brain cells as often as you can each day.
Vegetables. Eat greens to prevent dementia.
11. Jasmin Rahim, Nutrition Expert and Wellness Coach, Founder of Moving Nutrition
Fats. There’s strong scientific evidence that including naturally high-fat foods into the diet can prevent Alzheimer’s and improve cognitive function. Healthy fat sources include sardines, wild salmon, mackerel, eggs, coconut oil, ghee, butter, avocado, nuts and seeds.
Mindful eating. Research has shown that people who cook at home are generally healthier and have lower rates of chronic disease than those who don’t cook at home. Mindful, relaxed eating helps to support neuroplasticity, decrease inflammation, alleviate stress, and improve digestion.
12. Lily Sarafan, CEO, Home Care Assistance
Eat superfoods. Superfoods are nutrient-rich foods that promote physical and mental well-being by increasing circulation and promoting blood flow to the brain.
Minimize stress. Stress shuts down systems in your body, including the part of your brain that allows you to learn. In order to reduce stress, set aside personal time for yoga, meditation or prayer.
Socialize. Rich, meaningful relationships boost mood and sharpen cognitive function.
13. Dr. Rudy Tanzi, Vice Chair of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Movement. Keep moving — physically, mentally and spiritually.
Heart Health. What’s good for your heart is god for your brain. Try a Mediterranean Diet.
Deep sleep. Get 7-8 hours of sleep. During the deepest stage of sleep, your brain consolidates memories and cleans itself out of the protein debris that can cause disease like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
14. Dr. Tracy Young-Pearse, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Mind workouts. Actively seek out opportunities to exercise your mind, including stimulating conversations, Sudoku or crossword puzzles, and books.
Healthy body, healthy mind. All of our body’s systems are intimately connected. Cognitive abilities take a hit when other systems of the body are ailing. Eat well, exercise, and see your doctor regularly to take good care of your brain and body.
Head protection. Head injuries from contact sports and everyday accidents can have a huge impact on the brain that may not manifest until many years later. If you or your children are engaged in contact sports, or if you ride bicycles or motorbikes, be mindful of the potential consequences of multiple head injuries on your brain, and always wear protective helmets if you are engaged in these activities.
15. Josh Zabar, Food and Nutrition Entrepreneur
Herbs. Herbs that enhance, increase and maintain brain health include Schizandra, Ginseng, and Eleuthero.
Daily to-dos. 1. Meditate. 2. Drink spring water. 3. Exercise for at least 30-60 minutes per day.
About the Author:
Maria Shriver is a mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor covering the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. Since 2009, Shriver has produced a groundbreaking series of Shriver Reports that chronicle and explore seismic shifts in the American culture and society affecting women today. Shriver was California’s First Lady from 2003 to 2010 and, during that time, she spearheaded what became the nation’s premier forum for women, The Women’s Conference. Shriver’s work is driven by her belief that all of us have the ability to be what she calls Architects of Change — people who see a problem in their own life or the community around them, then step out of their comfort zone and do what it takes to create the solution. Like her page on Facebook or follow her on Instagram.
This post first appeared on MariaShriver.com.