Cynader holds the Canada Research Chair in Brain Development,
and is the co-founder and CEO of Synaptitude Brain Health.
might be asking yourself, “Why should I care about brain
health and incorporating new habits around it?” Incorporating
new activities and habits can lead us to healthy aging and longevity.
and more evidence shows that age-related cognitive decline can
begin long before retirement. In particular, the early signs
of Alzheimer’s can manifest in our brain more than 10
years before we start to show symptoms.
hard, insoluble pebbles made up of a protein called beta-amyloid
build up and are distributed within our brain, affecting our
ability to reason and remember. There are still no effective
drugs to stop this process, so the best way to fight against
this is by taking an integrated approach to your overall health.
your activities and habits in the areas of sleep, stress, exercise,
diet, and cognitive activity has been shown to significantly
decrease the risk of cognitive decline in at-risk older adults.
easy resolution you can incorporate in 2021 is to create a regular
sleep schedule. We know sleep is good for us, but why is that?
And why do we have to create a routine around it? Many people
are sleep deprived and don’t get enough of the benefits
of a good night’s sleep.
sleep, we rehearse and replay our memories, and we literally
clean out our brain. When we doze off, neurotoxic proteins like
beta-amyloid are cleared from our brain thanks to a network
of vessels called the Glymphatic system. The Glymphatic system
does most of its garbage disposal at night.
removal of these toxins reduces risk of cognitive decline and
improves memory! Setting a bedtime each evening and creating
a ritual with no screens an hour before bed is one simple way
to keep our minds sharp.
might’ve heard of fad diets like keto and paleo. But one
healthy resolution that doesn’t involve completely cutting
out carbs or sugar is to follow the Mediterranean diet. This
delicious sounding diet involves high consumption of foods you
probably already like: vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, cereals,
and monounsaturated fatty acids (e.g., olive oil).
also involves a moderate consumption of fish and dairy, like
cheese, and lower consumption of red meat and saturated fats.
In a study that tracked aging adults following the Mediterranean
diet, participants’ risk of getting Alzheimer’s
and other forms of dementia decreased by 45%-48%,
go ahead and indulge with veggies, fruits, cereal, fish, nuts,
chocolate, and cheese too. Not only is it a delicious way to
start your new year, but also a great combination of nutrients
for your noggin in the long run. Just eat all the colours of
any age, we feel the rush of endorphins after physical activity
and feel good. But as we age, exercise becomes more beneficial
for our mental health and general brain function. It actually
makes our brains bigger and thicker by creating more neurons.
average, we create about 30,000 new neurons a week, but
with exercise, we can generate two to three times more.
These new baby neurons go to work, creating new memories,
and reduce the risk of dementia and depression.
don’t have to incorporate terribly strenuous physical
activities to begin to reduce the risk of brain diseases. Committing
to at least one 20-minute walk outside in nature every day is
just about as good as one tough Pilates class a day. Whatever
activity you choose, sticking to it can reduce your risk of
thoughts can be a lot harder than it used to be, and it can
take you a lot longer to think of what you had for breakfast
than it used to. But what if I told you that brain exercises
can help you remember things faster and better?
the Advanced Cognitive Training in Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study,
participants were given brain exercises to boost their reaction
time and processing speed. We have more brain plasticity than
we give ourselves credit for, and most people were able to react
more quickly after training.
only did subjects boost their processing speed, it turned out
that they improved their memory, and they also decreased their
future risk of dementia. Over 10 years after the training program,
study participants’ risk of dementia was reduced by almost
up sports like ping pong or badminton is one way to boost your
processing speed. Brain training can be scary and intimidating
but making it a new year goal to just have fun with it will
keep your wits in tip-top shape.
a sleep routine, following a healthy diet, walking outside every
day, and doing things to boost brain speed are all easy resolutions
you can incorporate into your day to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s
and boost cognitive functionality.