An Introduction to Brain Health
Did you know that your lifestyle directly impacts your brain’s health? From what you eat and drink, to your exercise and sleep habits, down to the way you interact with others and manage stress – all are critical factors when considering how to improve and manage your brain’s health for living a longer and fuller life.
How Does Blood Pressure Impact My Brain Health?
Declining brain health and function is strongly linked to various medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, anxiety, depression, higher cholesterol levels and many others.
Untreated high blood pressure narrows and blocks arteries everywhere, including in your brain causing structural damage, which later can develop into mental decline.
You can control and reduce many of these medical risks through simple measures like getting your annual check-up, following your doctor’s recommendations, taking medications as prescribed, and using the higi health station to know your health numbers throughout the year.
Your brain’s memory is developed over the course of your life as you experience the world, adopt new habits and learn information. This is called “brain plasticity”. These experiences create patterns of activity that explain how your brain codes thoughts, creates memories, develops skills and defines your sense of self.
From losing your keys to forgetting a person’s name, changes in your memory may be noticeable but not all changes are a sign for concern. Several reasons lapses in memory may occur are failure to take prescribed medications, lack of sleep and excessive use of alcohol.
Boost your memory and brain function with healthy lifestyle choices and regular visits your local higi health station so you can know your health numbers and be your healthiest.
The Aging Brain
Your brain ages just like every other part of your body. Over time, your brain shrinks, slows down in speed and is less adept to change.
There are steps you can take to improve and sustain a healthy brain:
- Stay socially and mentally active with activities that challenge your brain like reading, taking walks with friends, or writing a letter.
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get quality sleep (7 – 9 hours per night)
- Keep your heart healthy by lowering your blood pressure – what’s good for your heart is good for your brain.
Brain health matters at every age. The choices you make today can help you have a healthier brain tomorrow.
What's the difference between Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia?
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, or loss of certain brain functions, among older adults. Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes parts of the brain to shrink at a greater rate than that of the typical aging process. Memory loss is typically the first sign.
Dementia or cognitive decline is a loss in your ability to think, remember, pay attention, communicate, solve problems, make decisions or regulate emotions. Common causes of dementia are stroke, head injuries, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Although considered a condition of the elderly, dementia can begin developing in younger age groups as well.
Symptoms and Warning Signs of Dementia
Some signs of Dementia are:
- Inability to think, remember or reason that interferes with normal activities and relationships
- Inability to solve problems or control emotions
- Personality changes and behavior problems
- Inability to communicate or pay attention
What Can I do to Lower My Risk?
Although the exact causes of both Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia are undetermined, these are things you can do to help reduce the risks:
- Maintain physical activity
- Control blood pressure
- Eat a healthy diet
- Stop (and don’t start) smoking
You can also boost your brain through brain games that stimulate mental activity, recall or note taking.
Keeping the mind and body active is the way to your healthiest life.
Did you know you can make some simple changes to help prevent high blood pressure?
Choose healthful meals and snacks that include fresh fruit and vegetables and avoid foods high in salt.
Cigarette smoking raises your your blood pressure and puts you at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you do smoke, talk to your health care provider for help.
Make sure that you have your blood pressure measured regularly. High blood pressure often occurs with no symptoms, so only blood pressure readings will tell you if your blood pressure is on the rise. Stop at the higi station to learn more about your health numbers.
Some examples of aerobic exercise you may try to lower blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing. See how well you’re doing by checking your body mass index (BMI) at a higi station.