Brain Healthy Habits

Senior woman holding ink drawing of brain

Keeping your brain healthy and trying to ward off dementia is something that everyone can do by adopting a few lifestyle habits. Although there is a large genetic component to the development of dementia, there are things you can do to ward off or delay its onset. Increasingly, doctors are learning that there are lifestyle factors which affect the onset of dementia. A healthy, balanced, social and active life is key in keeping your mind healthy.

Eating Right

A heart healthy diet is beneficial for warding off dementia.

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables of a variety of colours.
  • Avoid trans-fats and saturated fats.
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugars. Spiking blood sugar values are thought to increase the chances of dementia.
  • Increase your intake of Omega 3 fats found in fish like salmon and tuna. Many studies suggest this helps in prevention.
  • Caffeine: Some studies suggest caffeine can help your mind stay on track and ward off dementia. Make sure to drink coffee in moderation. Too much can upset a sleep schedule which can be bad for your brain.


Regular exercise can also help the mind. The more the blood pumps, the more oxygen can get to muscles as well as your brain. Activities can include walking, dancing, gardening, swimming, or anything which gets your heart rate up. Make it a social event by inviting friends to go out walking or doing something active like dancing lessons at the community center.

Mental Exercises

The key to any mental exercise is to keep the activity new in order to break habitual ways of thinking.

  •  Learning something new: A new language, an instrument, a new skill, or even reading can help stir up those neural networks.
  • If you’re interested, stay engaged with current events. Listen to the radio, read the paper, watch the news, and talk to other people about it.
  • Getting out of old habits: Try a new driving route to the grocery store, use your non-dominant hand for practice, practice using chopsticks, or learn a new knitting pattern. The more you do things out of habit, the harder your brain works to keep active.
  • Try Games! Scrabble, cards, riddles, or strategy and memory games are great for mental activity.
  • Sudoku is good if you feel like exercising your mind on your own. Get a tablet or ipad and try downloading games. Many of them can be mentally challenging, and fun!

Social Activity

Try to keep an active social life. Research shows a link between being social and active, and warding off dementia. Try some of the following to keep social:

  • Invite your family or loved ones to play some scrabble or another game!
  • Join a club through a community centre, church, or other association.
  • Learn how to use your computer and the internet to stay in touch with family or friends. Skype or Facebook can be great for staying in touch.

Stress Management

Stress has been shown to increase the chances of dementia. A healthy amount of stress isn’t problematic. Sometimes a little bit of stress is good, especially if it’s helping your brain learn something challenging. Chronic, long-term stress is not healthy. If you are experiencing this, try relaxation techniques like meditation, prayer, or deep breathing. Try to format your life in such a way that minimizes the cause of the chronic stress.

Avoid Head Trauma

Head trauma has been shown to have a direct relationship with dementia. Keep your head safe. Make sure to walk with mobility support if you need it (to prevent a fall) and try to keep your home hazard free. For more information on keeping your home safe you can check out our blog on home safety here. Get a good amount of sleep (6-8 hours, or more depending on what your body needs), and make sure to keep a regular sleep schedule.

Don’t Smoke or Drink in Excess

Smoking has been shown to be bad for a variety of diseases; dementia included. Drinking excessively has also been thought to be linked with dementia.

Increasingly, new information is coming to light about dementia and how best to prevent it. Stick with your healthy lifestyle and let your loved ones know what you’re doing to keep your mind and body active. The more they know, the more they can help you.

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