Protecting Your Brain: How a Healthy Lifestyle Can Shield Against Parkinson's and Alzheimer’s
In today's fast-paced world, taking care of your overall well-being is more important than ever. One crucial aspect of your health that deserves special attention is your brain. Parkinson's and Alzheimer's are two debilitating neurodegenerative diseases affecting millions of people worldwide. While there is currently no cure for these conditions, research suggests that a healthy lifestyle can significantly protect against them.
Find out how adopting a healthy lifestyle builds a barrier against Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
How a Healthy Lifestyle Can Shield Against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are complex brain diseases that significantly reduce a person’s quality of life. Research suggests that a healthy lifestyle can minimize the risk or delay the onset of these diseases.
Here are ways a healthy lifestyle can reduce or prevent Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
1. Regular Physical Exercise
It’s a prevalently-shared knowledge that moderate-intensity exercises can lessen the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. According to one study, physical activity can reduce the risk of dementia by 28% and Alzheimer’s disease by 45%.
Similarly, this study found that physical activity was linked to a lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease. These findings show that physical activity protects brain health and can diminish the risk of neurodegenerative disorders.
How Much Physical Exercise Do You Need?
To reap the brain-protective benefits of exercise, experts suggest engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. This includes jogging, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing. Remember, choose movement activities that don't feel like torture so you can incorporate them into your routine for the long term.
Exercise can enhance blood flow to the brain, stimulate neurogenesis, improve cognitive function, and reduce the chances of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. So, put on your sneakers, lace up, and get moving for a healthier brain.
2. Healthy Diet
What you eat can be good or bad for your brain health. Studies reveal that a wholesome diet can help curtail the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Specifically, following the Mediterranean diet – which emphasizes whole grains, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins – has been associated with a delay in the brain's decline and a lower risk of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease.
Creating a weekly or monthly meal plan helps you stick to a healthy diet. There are downloadable meal plan templates you can find online. If you have a health condition, speak to your nutritionist or dietician about what foods to incorporate into your meal plan.
3. Quality Sleep
Getting enough rest is crucial for maintaining brain health. When you sleep, your brain can clear out toxins and consolidate memories. The brain reboots, recharges, and rejuvenates itself while you sleep, so getting quality sleep is crucial.
Sleep deprivation has been linked with various health problems, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. According to this study, just one night of being sleep-deprived led to more beta-amyloid, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
Aim for 7 to 9 hours of deep sleep each night to ensure your brain gets the rest it needs. If you have trouble sleeping, connect with a sleep specialist to know the underlying factors for sleep troubles.
Avoid using your phone or any devices for your pre-bed routine, as blue light can affect the natural sleep cycle, leading to sleep interruptions. Additionally, block any light from entering the bedroom and ensure the temperature is comfortably cool to prime the body for a shut-eye. Sleep is essential as it's like providing your brain with the necessary downtime to keep it in top shape.
4. Management of Chronic Conditions and Heart Health
Chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are attributes of an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia. Managing these conditions and maintaining your overall health can help protect your brain.
Make sure to schedule regular check-ups with your healthcare provider. Follow their recommendations for managing chronic conditions, such as taking medications on time, avoiding red meat and salty foods, and quitting smoking.
If you have cardiovascular disease, your doctor will recommend including exercise in your daily routine. Ask what kind of exercise is safe to keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Control Your Risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Through Healthy Lifestyle
There’s no cure for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases yet, but research suggests incorporating healthy lifestyle choices such as those listed above can act as a shield against these neurodegenerative conditions.
Choose to live healthier by exercising regularly, maintaining a nutritious diet, getting sufficient sleep, and managing chronic conditions.
Protecting your brain is a lifelong journey that requires dedication and consistent effort. By prioritizing a healthy lifestyle, you can significantly reduce the risk of diseases that harm your brain and enjoy a higher quality of life.
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