As we have thankfully turned the page to a new year, many people are now turning their thoughts to how they can better themselves, especially with resolutions on improving their health. You may not think you can improve your brain’s health like building your muscles with weightlifting or improving your heart with diet, but it’s true. More and more research shows there are many things we can do to improve our brain’s functioning, such as memory, thinking, processing, and planning abilities.

Research over the past decade indicates approximately 35-40 percent of dementia cases worldwide can be attributable to nine modifiable risk factors: low educational attainment in early life, midlife hypertension and obesity, diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity, depression, social isolation/loneliness, and adult hearing loss. New research has also included high alcohol intake, stress, sleep disturbances, and poor oral health as additional risk factors for dementia. This clearly shows there is much we can do to prevent dementia and maintain a healthy brain across the lifespan.

Lynn James, MS, RDN, LDN, is employed by the Penn State Extension. Reference: Rosenberg, A., Mangialasche, F., Ngandu, T. et al. (2020). Multidomain Interventions to Prevent Cognitive Impairment, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Dementia: From FINGER to Worldwide FINGERS. J Prev Alzheimers Dis (7), 29–36.

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