There are so many things in life that demand our attention, that certain things don’t get the attention they deserve. Cognitive decline is one of those. Changes in our brain and cognitive ability tend to happen gradually or without our knowledge. People have a tendency to ‘not fix what isn’t broken’. However, when it comes to cognitive decline, complacency will catch up to you as you age or experience neurological or cognitive conditions. This can manifest as minor inconveniences like poor memory and problem-solving, or as more serious, chronic cognitive conditions.
Dr. Salman Saeed and his team of professionals at West TN Neurology specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of neurology-based conditions. This ranges from cognitive disorders to the proper function of the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems in the body. Our goal is to help our patients achieve optimal, healthy brain function – in order to achieve that, there is an extensive list of lifestyle choices you can make to keep your brain healthy as you age!
1. Mental Stimulation
One of the most effective ways to stay mentally sharp is to exercise your brain. Engage in cognitive activities, things that require coordination, puzzles, problem-solving or creative outlets like drawing or painting. Activities like these strengthen neural connections in the brain and encourage the growth of new pathways.
By frequently using these neural connections, you are telling your brain that they are important and must be maintained. This prevents them from being ‘pruned’ or broken down, allowing them to persist over time. This concept of brain training is based on neuroplasticity, the idea that our brains are moldable and adapt to the stimulus in our environment.
2. Physical Exercise
Maintaining routine physical activity has been shown to improve cognitive processes, memory, and offers antidepressant effects – inducing a sense of wellbeing. There is an age-old saying ‘a sound mind in a sound body’ illustrating how long ago the connection was made between physical health and cognitive health.
Studies have shown that physical exercise helps prevent the early onset of degenerative pathologies like Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis
3. Brain Food Diet
Everything we eat serves our body with a different purpose. Dietary science has conducted extensive research on the effects that certain foods have on our cognitive health. For example, a Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, unsaturated oils (olive oil), and plant proteins is known to help prevent the development of cognitive impairment and dementia.
4. Improve your blood pressure
Have you ever heard ‘what’s good for the heart is good for the brain’? Well, it’s true! The heart provides life-giving blood and essential nutrients to the brain, enabling it to function properly. When you have abnormally low or high blood pressure, your cognitive ability is impacted.
Researchers found that for every 10-mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure, there was a 9 percent increase in risk for poor cognitive function. High blood pressure is a risk factor for cognitive decline, memory disorders, and processing speed later in life.
5. Blood Sugar and Diabetes Management
Diabetes is an important risk factor for degenerative conditions like dementia. You can follow medical advice to help prevent diabetes by eating the appropriate diet, routine exercise, and maintaining healthy body weight. Diabetes is a strong indicator of cognitive decline, with diabetic patients experiencing cognitive decline at a rate that is double those who do not have type 2 diabetes. Insulin has been identified as a key factor in verbal fluency, working memory, processing speed, cognitive flexibility, and cognitive control.
But if you are unable to regulate your blood sugar, you’ll need medication to achieve a healthy balance and ward off prediabetes or the early onset of diabetes.
6. Protect Your Head
The first thing that most people think of when they hear head injury, is a concussion. However, you don’t need to be diagnosed with a concussion to experience lasting and substantial brain damage. Even mild head injuries can have adverse effects on your brain.
More serious head injuries referred to as Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), are the result of high impact, jarring blows to the head. The most common way to sustain a TBI is by slipping and falling, car accidents, and competitive sports. Of course, accidents happen and there is only so much you can do to prevent head injuries.
Consult A Neurologist About Cognitive Decline
One of the best ways to maintain functional and healthy cognitive ability is to speak with a trained neurologist who can accurately assess your condition. Because there are so many genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors that can influence healthy cognition, you need input from a professional in order to make changes that will positively benefit you in the future.
The team of trained neurologists at West TN Neurology can offer you real, actionable plans that you can implement into your daily routine. The other aspect of cognitive health is monitoring and catching any age or condition-related cognitive decline.
Fight Back Against Cognitive Decline at West TN Neurology
Maintaining a healthy and functioning brain may be one of the most important factors in longevity and living a happy, healthy life. If you are worried about your or a loved one’s cognitive decline, take preventative action and visit the specialists at West TN Neurology for a consultation. Our team can provide you with an action plan to minimize decline and leave you sharper than ever as you age!
Call our offices to speak with a member of our team or schedule a consultation online today!