Protect your beautiful brain with these 13 lifestyle and diet tips to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s dementia.

Graphic with images of brain healthy activities to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

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June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month – a perfect time to learn about Alzheimer’s disease, reflect on your own brain health and that of your loved ones, and learn ways to prevent it.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It devastates a person’s memory, thinking, and behavior. It can overwhelm families with caregiving, financial, and emotional burdens.

One in nine Americans over 65 have Alzheimer’s, and many more suffer from related dementias. The total number of Americans stricken by this disease is nearing 7 million and expects to triple by 2050. (1)

Rather than wait for dementia to creep up on you (gradual changes in your brain may take 20-30 years to appear as symptoms), you can start taking action today to reduce your risk. In fact, research shows that people who adopt several healthy lifestyle factors can potentially reduce their risk by as much as 60%. (2)

I’ve partnered with my friends at NeuroReserve to share their top tips for improving brain health and reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s. This year, they added a few new ones based on the Lancet Commission’s ongoing report on dementia prevention. (3) You’ll also find nutritional advice sprinkled throughout (NeuroReserve’s specialty) and essential lifestyle habits to follow.

Start Today! Top Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

1. Get your daily fill of green veggies.

Hand holding a white bowl filled with Spinach, mozzarella, chickpea, and tomato salad.

Leafy greens are nutrient-dense vegetables supporting the brain. These nutrients provide
antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects to reduce damage. Leafy greens provide polyphenols, plant-based pigments known for their numerous health benefits.

Kaempferol is a polyphenol in leafy greens like spinach, kale, and arugula, which may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 50% in the top fifth of those consuming it! (4)

Leafy greens also provide essential minerals like magnesium, iron, and gut-healthy fiber. Aim for 1 cup of raw leafy greens or ½ cup of cooked greens daily to attain brain benefits and gut-healthy fiber.

Put it into practice! More health benefits of leafy greens + recipes you’ll love!

2. Practice stress management & prioritize mental health.

Everyone experiences stress daily, and not managing stress can take an enormous toll on the body. Studies have shown that chronic stress over time can negatively impact memory in older adults. (5)

Remember that chronic stress and depression are related and can feed off each other. Depression and then anxiety may be the first indicators of the heightened likelihood of Alzheimer’s, happening about nine years before onset. (6)

There are many ways to reduce the effects of stress on the body. Some common stress management practices include deep breathing or meditation, exercise, keeping a gratitude journal, spending time with loved ones, and practicing self-care.

Put it into practice! Try these Self Care Tips for Better Mental Health.

3. Connect with family or friends daily.

Interacting with people close to you stimulates different parts of the brain and supports attention and memory. Studies have linked more social activity with less cognitive decline during old age. (7)

Make a point of connecting with family or friends daily, even just a quick phone call. Our brains crave relationships!

4. Enjoy a daily handful of berries.

Berries, including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are often considered a “superfood,” and for a good reason. Berries are rich in polyphenols like anthocyanins, flavonoids, and stilbenes that offer powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects to protect the brain from damage.

Studies have found a decreased rate of cognitive decline in those consuming just 1-2 servings of berries per week. (8) Get your daily dose of fresh berries in Spring and Summer, but frozen berries are a great alternative when you can’t find fresh, and they provide the same brain-health benefit.

Put it into practice! Make this yummy Strawberry Arugula Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette and this Easiest Ever Blueberry Smoothie Bowl.

5. Get some fresh air.

Exposure to air pollutants and fine air particles is associated with poor health, including a heightened risk of dementia (up to 60% higher). (3) While separating air pollution from other factors is challenging, research shows it may contribute to Alzheimer’s pathology, like amyloid deposition.

Thus, while it’s not easy for everyone to relocate to the countryside, there are simple ways to freshen our air. Try decorating with houseplants. Spider plants, bromeliads, and dracaenas are especially good at filtering nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds from the air.

Make sure to change your home’s HVAC filters regularly. Also, when exercising outdoors, try doing it during off hours, either early in the morning or in the evening, outside of rush hour.

6. Make sleep a priority.

Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night: Sleep is critical for the body and brain to function correctly. It plays a role in learning, memory, concentration, and neuron communication.

An analysis of studies examining the relationship between sleep and Alzheimer’s found a significantly higher risk of Alzheimer’s in those with sleep disturbances or disorders. (9)

Prioritize high-quality sleep by sticking to a regular sleep schedule, avoiding alcohol or caffeine before bed, and putting away screens at least 30 minutes before bed.

Put it into practice! Read this post on natural sleep tips.

7. Move your body 30 minutes per day.

Be physically active for 30 minutes daily (even if it’s just a walk): Exercise profoundly affects brain health. It reduces inflammation, improves blood flow to the brain, lowers stress hormones, and increases brain volume.

Several studies have shown that exercise improves memory function in adults. (10) The key is to exercise regularly.

Exercise can come in many forms; from walking or running to swimming or cycling, any aerobic exercise that increases the heart rate can benefit brain health. Just a 30-minute walk with a friend can have profound brain benefits from moving and socializing.

8. Get your omega-3s.

Salmon on a wood plank with lemon and sea salt.

Omega-3s are healthy fats that help maintain the structure of cells and regulate cell communication, fight neuroinflammation, and improve memory and mood.

Several studies have reported the benefits of omega-3s in reducing the risk of dementia and improving cognitive function. (11)

You can achieve an adequate intake of omega-3s from fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, or anchovies, as well as nuts like flax seeds, chia seeds, or walnuts.

Put it into practice! Make this brain-healthy and delicious Miso Maple Broiled Salmon Nicoise Salad.

9. Keep your brain active.

Read or play games that activate your brain: Just like you need to exercise physically to keep your body in shape, you need to exercise your brain to keep your brain healthy as you age.

Many studies have demonstrated a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s with an increased frequency of cognitively stimulating activities. (12) Using your brain in different ways has been shown to have more potent effects on brain health.

For example, try a new puzzle or game every week that activates different parts of the brain; if you prefer a cognitive training app on your smartphone, there are several options, like BrainHQ.

Picking up new hobbies or continuing old ones, such as playing an instrument, helps keep the brain engaged.

10. Drink up! Water that is.

Glass of sparkling water with raspberries and lime wedges.

Drink at least 8 cups of water daily: Water is the most important thing we consume daily. The human brain is composed of 75% water, so understandably, only 2% dehydration can impact memory and processing speed.

A recent study found that drinking water enhances performance on cognitive tests measuring working memory, temporarily storing information during tasks, and decision-making. (13)

Keep a water bottle nearby throughout the day to ensure you stay hydrated, and aim for about 8 cups (64 ounces) daily.

Put it into practice! Read this post on my top tips for healthy hydration.

11. Watch out for hearing loss.

Watch out for hearing loss: If you have to raise the volume of your TV or find it hard to hear high-pitched voices (like that of children), it could be hearing loss.

Age-related hearing loss is prevalent, with about 40% of people over age 50 experiencing some hearing loss and over 70% of those over age 70 having hearing loss. Hearing loss can lead to social isolation and hinder cognitive stimulation, which is associated with an almost doubled risk of dementia. (3)

Evidence shows that hearing aids can protect from cognitive decline. So, don’t hesitate to see your audiologist to ensure your hearing is up to par.

12. Keep your heart healthy.

Stay on top of your heart and metabolic health: It is becoming clear that all aspects of health connect to brain health. A couple of crucial health measures are heart and metabolic (think diabetes) health, as they have been linked directly to Alzheimer’s risk.

For example, a significantly increased risk of Alzheimer’s is associated with diabetes and obesity. (14) It’s important to keep track of your heart and metabolic health to recognize if any issues need addressing.

Early detection makes it easier to make the adjustments necessary to maintain health and prevent damage to the brain.

13. Choose a brain-healthy supplement.

Jar of Relevate Brain Health Supplement by NeuroReserve.

Consider a supplement to fill the gaps in your diet: It’s not always easy to eat all the nutrients your brain needs daily, so taking a daily supplement may help fill these nutritional gaps.

Zoltan Mari, M.D., a neurologist-researcher at Cleveland Clinic, relates to people’s practical challenges at adhering to a brain-healthy diet like the MIND diet, saying, “We’re realistic—it’s not always easy. Nutritional products and supplements can play a positive role for those of us who aren’t perfect.” 

RELEVATE is my favorite nutritional supplement containing 17 well-researched nutrients for long-term brain health. Its dosages are based on those consumed in brain-healthy diets like MIND and Mediterranean diets.

RELEVATE builds on evidence from long-term studies of these brain-strengthening diets linked to significantly reduced risk of age-related neurodegenerative disease (over 50% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s). (15)

Consider a supplement like this if you want to close essential gaps and reinforce your brain with protective nutrients.

Put it into practice! Try RELEVATE and get 15% off with my code SPICYRD!

Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Recap

This Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, take your first (or next) steps toward a longer lifespan, health span, and brain span!

Today is a great day to support your brain in preventing Alzheimer’s, but you don’t have to do everything at once. Pick one or two things you want to prioritize, and gradually add more when possible. Finding the things that work for you to sustain a brain-healthy lifestyle is vital. And, as a bonus, you’ll also support your whole body’s health!

I’m honored to partner with Neuroreserve for high-quality brain health education. If you want more brain-healthy tips, sign up for NeuroReserve’s email list to get evidence-based articles, tips, and recipes directly in your inbox. Sign up here!

Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Reduction References

  1. Alzheimer’s Association. 2023 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Alzheimers Dement. 19 (2023).
  2. Dhana, K., Evans, D. A., Rajan, K. B., Bennett, D. A., and Morris, M. C., Healthy lifestyle and the risk of Alzheimer dementia: Findings from 2 longitudinal studies. Neurology, 2020, 95, E374–E383.
  3. Livingston G., et al., Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet, 2020, 396:10248.
  4. Holland, T. M., Agarwal, P., Wang, Y., et al., Dietary flavonols and risk of Alzheimer dementia. Neurology, 2020, 94, e1749–e1756.
  5. Peavy, G. M., Ph, D., Salmon, D. P., et al., Effects of chronic stress on memory decline in cognitively normal and mildly impaired older adults. Am. J. Psychiatry, 2009, 166, 1384–1391.
  6. Nedelec T., et al., Identifying health conditions associated with Alzheimer’s disease up to 15 years before diagnosis: an agnostic study of French and British health records. The Lancet Digital Health, 2022, 4:3.
  7. James, B. D., Wilson, R. S., Barnes, L. L., and Bennett, D. A., Late-Life Social Activity and Cognitive Decline in Old Age. J Int Neuropsychol Soc., 2011, 711–716.
  8. Devore, E. E., Kang, J. H., Breteler, M. M. B., and Grodstein, F., Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Ann. Neurol., 2012, 72, 135–143.
  9. Bubu, O. M., Brannick, M., Mortimer, J., et al., Sleep, Cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sleep, 2017, 40, 1–18.
  10. Loprinzi, P. D., Frith, E., Edwards, M. K., Sng, E., and Ashpole, N., The Effects of Exercise on Memory Function Among Young to Middle-Aged Adults: Systematic Review and Recommendations for Future Research. Am. J. Heal. Promot., 2018, 32, 691–704.
  11. Issa, A. M., Mojica, W. A., Morton, S. C., et al., The efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids on cognitive function in aging and dementia: A systematic review. Dement. Geriatr. Cogn. Disord., 2006, 21, 88–96.
  12. Bardai, Z., Neural Plasticity, and Cognitive Reserve. J. Curr. Clin. Care, 2012, 2.
  13. Edmonds, C. J., Beeley, J., Rizzo, I., Booth, P., and Gardner, M., Drinking Water Enhances Cognitive Performance: Positive Effects on Working Memory But Not Long-Term Memory. J. Cogn. Enhanc., 2022, 6, 67–73.
  14. Profenno, L. A., Porsteinsson, A. P., and Faraone, S. V, Meta-Analysis of Alzheimer’s Disease Risk with Obesity, Diabetes, and Related Disorders. Biol. Psychiatry, 2010, 67, 505–512.
  15. Morris, M. C., Tangney, C. C., Wang, Y., et al., MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimers disease. Alzheimer’s and Dement., 2015, 11, 1007–1014.

Do you have any questions about how to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s dementia? Any questions about NeuroReserve? Leave a comment or question, or contact me at thespicyrd@eastewart.com. I also offer one-on-one brain health nutrition coaching and have delicious meal plans to support your beautiful brain!

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