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7 Pillars for Brain-Healthy Lifestyle

Two years ago, I embarked on my own wellness journey to get healthy in body and mind. First I had to get the body feeling better; therefore, I took up walking and healthy eating. With this new way of life and my body feeling better, it was time to focus on the mind.


I have done research on how to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia and found there are resources that have documented several great lifestyle changes that will help. Helpguide.org focuses on 7 strategies to keep our brain healthy. Promising research shows we can reduce our risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias through a combination of simple, yet effective lifestyle changes. Age and genetics are out of our control; however, there are 7 pillars for a brain-healthy lifestyle that we can control and I have documented them at a high level here. Visit Helpguide.org for more information.


1. Regular Exercise

  • Regular cardio and strength training can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’ disease by up to 50% because it stimulates the brain’s ability to maintain old connections, as well as make new ones.

  • Aim for 150 minutes of cardio exercise each week. Good activities for beginners include walking and swimming.

  • For those over 65, adding 2 -3 sessions of weigh and resistance training per week may help cut the risk in half.

  • Include balance and coordination exercises as they can help you stay agile and avoid falling. Try yoga, Tai Chi or balancing balls.

2. Social Engagement

  • We are social creatures and our brains thrive on staying connected. Having a network of family and friends to stay connected will help.

  • As we get older, it is important to develop new friendships, as well, and this can be done by:

  1. Volunteering

  2. Joining a club

  3. Visiting a community or senior center

  4. Taking group classes

  5. Weekly dates with family or friends

  6. Getting out to parks, museums and other public places

3. Healthy Diet

  • Adapting the MIND diet which I will highlight in another blog

4. Mental Stimulation

  • Research shows those who continue to learn and challenge their brains are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia. Basically we need to “use it or lose it”

  • A few things that can help with mental stimulation:

  1. Study a foreign language

  2. Learn how to play an instrument

  3. Take up a new hobby

  4. Play strategy games, puzzles and riddles

  5. Vary your habits to create new brain pathways by taking a different road home or use your non-dominant hand when eating

5. Quality Sleep

  • There are a number of links between sleep patterns and development of Alzheimer’s and dementia. We need good sleep to flush out toxins in the brain and lower levels of beta-amyloid, a protein that can disrupt memory formation.

  • If you find sleep deprivation is slowing down your thinking, try:

  1. Implementing a regular sleep patter by going to bed and getting up at the same time.

  2. Set the mood and keep television, computers and cell phones out of the bedroom.

  3. Create a relaxing ritual by taking a hot bath or listening to relaxing music.

  4. If you can’t turn off the stress or worry, get out of bed and read for 20 minutes then go back to bed

  5. If your loved ones state you snore a lot, get tested for sleep apnea. Getting treated can make a huge difference.

6. Stress Management

  • Stress can take a huge toll on the brain and lead to shrinkage in memory area, hampers nerve cell growth and increases risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Simple stress management tools like these can help minimize effects:

  1. Breathe – throughout the day and when you feel stress coming on, take some deep abdominal breaths, close your eyes and destress.

  2. Scheduling daily meditation, muscle relaxation, prayer or yoga can help you unwind and reverse the damage of stress.

  3. Make time for things that make you happy.

  4. Laugh as much as you can as it helps fight off stress. That includes laughing at yourself.

7. Vascular Health

  • Evidence shows what is good for your hear is good for your brain. Maintaining a good cardiovascular health is crucial in lowering the risks of vascular dementia. You need to keep blood pressure in check by:

  1. Following your doctor’s advice

  2. Get a good monitor and check your blood pressure at home

  3. Eat healthy

  4. Trim your waistline

  5. Lower your stress


The more we strengthen each of these pillars in our daily life, the longer and stronger our brain will stay working and more likely be able to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

7 Pillars of Brain-Healthy Lifestyle

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3 Comments


lorraine rizzardo
lorraine rizzardo
May 03, 2021

Something went wrong with part of this comment .

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Maria Scuor
Maria Scuor
May 03, 2021
Replying to

Thank you Lorraine. I think it’s fixed now. 😊

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