Brain health part of an active lifestyle

Loss of brain functions can all be affected by lifestyle factors including diet, exercise and other environmental influences

Many people realize that lifestyle factors can affect long-term health and risk of chronic disease. But, do people think staying fit means only from the neck down?

Diseases of the body can also affect the brain and its functions. One in 11 Canadians over the age of 65 has loss of brain function that is not part of the normal aging process, like Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Loss of brain functions, such as memory, thinking, reasoning, judgment, mood, behaviour and ability to communicate can all be affected by lifestyle factors including diet, exercise and other environmental influences.

Maintaining good blood flow through arteries around the body and brain are important for health.

A fatty, processed food type diet over the long term can cause elevated cholesterol levels, contributing to arterial blockages, which may result in stroke and brain cell damage leading to Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Physical fitness, such as brisk walking can help to maintain good blood flow to brain, as well as encourage new brain cells and ultimately decrease risk of dementia.

Other ways that exercise can preserve brain health is that it boosts the odds of having lower blood pressure, healthy arteries and less insulin resistance. Also, studies show that higher blood pressure, cholesterol and weight during middle age puts individuals at higher risk for dementia.

Eating a diet that is good for cardiovascular or heart health is also shown to help prevent brain deterioration and risk of dementia.

Including a rainbow of dark-coloured vegetables and fruits that are naturally rich in antioxidants and folate help prevent free radical cell damage throughout body including brain.

Fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, halibut, tuna and herring two to three times per week in the diet will offer a good level of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for health. Flax, walnuts and pumpkin seeds will also provide these essential fats in the diet.

These good fats are benficial, whereas too many trans and saturated fats can be detrimental over time.

Trans fats are found in bakery items, packaged food products and hydrogenated processed foods (as stated on the label).

Saturated fats are derived from animal products and can be limited by choosing lean cuts of meat, skinless poultry and low fat dairy for example.

Other important considerations for maintaining brain health include regularly engaging in mental puzzles and games, such as crosswords and sudoku, challenging self with new activities, writing letters or journals and keeping socially active. Quitting smoking is also a critical step to improving overall health.

In general, following a heart healthy lifestyle will also help to preserve long-term brain health and support the prevention of Alzheimer’s and other dementias in older adults.

 

Sandra Gentleman, RD, is an Alberni Valley-based registered dietitian and steward of Canal Beach.

Just Posted

ARTS AROUND: Last call for cruise ship vendors

Last cruise ship arrives in the Alberni Inlet on July 6

BIZ BEAT: Port Alberni businesses celebrate milestones

RE/MAX Mid-Island moving into new building on Johnston Road

Solda’s Family Restaurant celebrates 50 years in Port Alberni

Restaurant is currently up for sale to “the right buyer”

Cherry Creek Waterworks District imposes water restrictions

Stage 1 water restrictions now in effect

Paint your toe for Pride in Port Alberni

Alberni couple launches campaign to show support for the LGBTQ community

VIDEO: B.C. First Nation plans to launch legal challenge after Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, Premier John Horgan says he’ll continue to defend the B.C. coast

Federal cabinet ministers visit Edmonton, Calgary, in wake of TMX approval

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi is set to visit Trans Mountain Corp.’s terminal in Edmonton

B.C. municipality prepares to forbid overnight camping by homeless despite court ruling

While courts have ruled against blanket bans, Langley City is employing a site-by-site approach

B.C. auditor says Indigenous grad rate highest ever but education gaps exist

The percentage of Indigenous students graduating from B.C. public high schools has hit its highest level ever

Statistics Canada reports annual pace of inflation rises in May to 2.4%

Transportation prices gained 3.1 per cent as the cost of air transportation added 8.9 per cent

BREAKING: Forest fire on North Island disrupts Hwy. 19

Wildfire has reached .25 hectares, according to BC Wildfire Service

Man to be sentenced for sexual abuse of young girl in Nanaimo

Stephen Mark Castleden also sentenced for child pornography-related charges

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

VIDEO: Firefighters stop blaze from spreading after BMW crashes at Saratoga Speedway

Victoria-based businessmen were ‘corner training’ on Father’s Day when incident took place

Most Read