Health Tip: Protect your Cognitive Vitality

A new resource from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) provides a comprehensive overview and analysis of the science for specific strategies to prevent dementia. showcases the strength of the science for and against prevention strategies related to nutrition and the management of other diseases. This enables you to make informed decisions to protect your brain against cognitive decline and dementia.

Here are some tips in the form of an acronym from ADDF to help protect your cognitive vitality. Put them together, and they spell VITALIZE!

V – Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Grains, and Fish (eat them!)
A healthy balanced diet of whole foods rich in vitamins, nutrients, and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may protect the brain. To learn more about specific nutritional strategies and brain health, click here.

I – Illnesses and Medications (manage them!)
Some chronic diseases can raise the risk of dementia and some medications can impair your brain’s function. Periodically review your medications and supplements with your physician. Work with them to manage your health. Your smart phone and computer can help manage your medications.

T – Treat Depression, Anxiety, Grief and Loneliness
Depression may impair cognitive health, causing memory loss and attention deficits. It can be treatable with medications and psychotherapy.

A – Alleviate Stress
Prolonged stress can harm your brain and causes fatigue, disturbed sleep, poor concentration and memory lapses. Protect yourself by changing your lifestyle and learning ways to cope. More on stress management can be found in this WebMD article and the CDC website.

L – Live and Learn
Stimulate your brain throughout life by engaging socially and intellectually. Education at any age may protect against cognitive decline. Brain games can keep you cognitively-engaged. And if you love learning, try taking a class at your local community college. Volunteering is a fun way to stay socially-engaged and stimulated too.

I – Inspire Hope Through Research
Scientists are working hard to develop effective treatments for cognitive aging and dementia. You can help! Participate in clinical research as a person with dementia or as a health adult. Find a trial near you at TrialMatch and at CureFinder.

Z – Zzzzzzzzzzz…
Sleep well and regularly – impaired sleep may lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, establish a bedtime routine, use the bedroom only for sleep and sex, avoid food and exercise within 2-3 hours of bedtime, and avoid sleeping pills.

E – Exercise
Exercise may protect against brain aging and improve mental function. Avoid long periods of physical inactivity and engage in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes duration, 3-5 days per week.
Adapted from Reprinted with permission from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation.