June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.
Whether it’s crossword puzzles or exercise -- we’ve all heard about different tricks for keeping our brains healthy and warding off memory loss.
But what actually works?
According to Dr. Dylan Wint, of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, up to 35% of risk can be eliminated with healthy habits.
“Top one among those is getting lots of aerobic exercise. We recommend 150 minutes per week. So, for most people that’ll work out to 20 or 30 minutes per day, then eating a healthy diet,” he said. “So, eating lots of leafy green vegetables, good oils such as those found in fish and in nuts, lots of fresh fruit, particularly berries, seem to confer some health benefits in terms of both preserving brain health, as well as general health.”
If you’re looking for a dietary supplement to give your brain a boost: don’t bother.
“Supplements haven’t been proven to improve memory,” Wint said. “There is some mixed evidence on Vitamin E perhaps preserving cognition, but the strongest evidence seems to be in people who already have Alzheimer’s disease.”
There’s good news if you’re hooked on brain teasers, keeping your mind active will benefit your brain -- but there’s a catch.
“What you really want to do to challenge your brain is learn new things,” Wint said. “If you’re doing something very verbal, like a crossword puzzle and you’re very used to that, maybe switch to something mathematical and logical, like Sudoku.”
Wint said socializing is a powerful cognitive exercise too, so interacting with others will help keep your brain active.
He also recommends avoiding excessive alcohol, smoking and head trauma for a healthy brain.