Playing mind games, crossword puzzles and solving sudoku puzzles provides much more than entertainment. Engaging in these pursuits will not only make you smarter in the here and now, it will also help keep the signs and symptoms of dementia at bay as you get older.
Brain-Boosting Habits for Better Brain Health
This finding is yet another addition to the growing body of evidence that lifestyle factors can significantly influence the onset of memory problems as people age. Some of the findings from previous research show that regular exercise, healthy diet, socialization, healthy weight and learning a second language are brain-boosting habits that are recommended to be incorporated into a person’s lifestyle.
A study published in the Archives of Neurology revealed that constantly stimulating your brain through cognitive skill-enhancing activities, along with engaging in social, recreational, occupational, and community activities can significantly affect brain health in the long term.
Brain Activities Can Help Reduce Risk of Dementia
There is some proven science behind these claims, as there are measurable, physical aspects to support the behavioral data.
Brain exercises may lead to a reduction in the accumulation of a protein called beta-amyloid in the brain. If beta-amyloid proteins start to build up, it may turn into a sticky plaque that contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
A study was conducted on 65 older adults, with an average age of 76. They were asked about their lifestyle habits and engagement in brain stimulating activities.
The researchers also used PET scans to determine how much beta-amyloid proteins had accumulated already.
For the purpose of making comparisons, ten patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and eleven healthy adults, with an average age of 25, were included as part of the study. The results showed that study participants who spent more time engaging in mentally stimulating activities were not only more mentally active, but they were also found to have less beta-amyloid accumulation.
The older adults who regularly engaged in cognitive activities were found to have levels of beta-amyloid proteins similar to the participants who were only 25 years of age.
By comparison, the patients who had limited brain exercise were found to have beta amyloid levels similar to patients with Alzheimer’s.
Better Brain Health Should Be Your Lifetime Investment
The overall findings of this research indicated that the current cognitive activity of the participants had little influence on the levels of beta-amyloid that are present in their brains.
Experts stressed that what is more important is the frequency of engagement in activities that strengthen mental health starting from as young as 6 years old. In other words, engaging in activities that boost brain power should be performed all throughout a person’s lifetime, beginning in their early years.
Like any aspects of health – mental or physical – taking action should not be left until later in life. The earlier positive action is undertaken the better the long-term prognosis will be.
This suggests that prevention from, and reduction of the protein are incremental, cumulative and long-lasting. It is not a quick fix, but a lifestyle behavior that will have an influence on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.