How to Build and Maintain Cognitive Reserve
By Sherrie All, Ph.D.
Based on research from around the world, brain health experts now know the key lifestyle patterns that promote reserve. This means that you can have a lifestyle that is similar to the people in the research studies who never developed the clinical features of Alzheimer's disease even when Alzheimer's pathology was growing in their brains.
Here are some of the top ways to build and maintain reserve.
- Mental Stimulation: Keeping your brain active is the foundation of the concept of use it or lose it. The more you learn throughout your life, the more connections you grow. Then more has to be lost before developing dementia.
- Physical Exercise: Not only does exercising your body protect you from reserve depleters such as cardiovascular disease, but physical exercise also helps you grow new brain cells and increases the production of chemicals that boost reserve.
- Stress Management: Chronic stress has the opposite effect of exercise on the brain. High levels of stress hormones kill brain cells and prevent new ones from growing, so implementing a routine of recovery and relaxation is essential.
- Brain Healthy Diet: A big reason you joined TheCognitiveReserve.com was probably to start eating a brain healthy diet. Research from all over the world has taught us that there are certain foods that promote brain health and other foods that are unhealthy. We will continue to teach you what these foods are and support you in changing your diet!
- Positive Relationships: One of the first things researchers learned about people with high reserve was that they tend to have many more social connections than people with low reserve. The quality of those relationships also matters, so cherish your supportive friends and spend more time with people who build you up.
- Maintaining Your Physical Health: Common medical conditions add extra wear and tear to your brain and lower reserve. That's why it is important to follow general health guidelines and work closely with your doctor to treat medical conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
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