Maintaining a sharp, healthy brain is the goal of every senior citizen, and the risk of Alzheimer's can be decreased via adopting the following five simple rules. Some of these recommendations have already been proved effective scientifically, while others are proving to be very promising preventive measures that still need more in-depth research.

1. The Mediterranean diet - promising

Valter Longo, a professor of biological science at the University of Southern California's Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and the University of Southern California's Dornsife College of Arts and Sciences, says healthy eating can delay the aging process of both brain and body.

Mediterranean diet seems to be a good choice. This plant-based foods featuring nuts, beans, fruits, vegetables, whole grains are associated with lowering the risk of heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. But Longo advocates a further diet. He said a special low-protein fish diet plus neuroprotective foods and beverages such as olive oil, coffee and coconut oil is the ideal protective diet. In a new book called The Longevity Diet, he described this 5-day diet that mimicked fasting.

According to Longo, salmon and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is a beneficial fat. However, the fat containing in red meat is not healthy for heart and brain.

A healthy diet is of paramount importance as it’s able to activate the brain's metabolic pathways, improve cognitive function, and even slow or prevent Alzheimer's disease.

2. Exercise - proven

When you get 25 years old, the brain's processing speed will start to decline. Judy Pa, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Southern California's Mark (USC Mark) and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, says exercise can enhance existing neurons and accelerate neurons grow and improve communication between brain cells, which means your current behavior may bring harm or benefits to your future life.

Based on the guidelines of the Health Bureau, people at older age need at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, in addition to at least two or more days of resistance training per week. Pa said: "Think exercise as a bank account: what you do now can enhance your cognitive flexibility in later life. Choosing a healthy lifestyle will never be too early or too late."

For example, studies have indicated that some older people do not have symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, despite elevated levels of protein associated with the disease in their brains. Pa said that these people's brains may be tolerant due to the choice of lifestyle in their early years.

3. Guaranteed high quality sleep - effective

Older people need 6 to 8 hours of continuous sleep. During sleep, toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease are excreted through the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, but more research is needed to understand the cycle. The time it takes for sleep can recover and restart the brain and body. In sleep, your brain will integrate the new information of the day and archive the information into the correct “brain cabinet”.

Develop good sleep habits. This means keeping your eyes away from screens such as TVs, tablets and smartphones. Turn your phone into "Do Not Disturb" so they don't ring or vibrate and wake you up. A better way is to buy an alarm clock and put the phone in another room (although it is almost impossible). In today's busy high-tech world, it is vital to give our brains and body enough rest.

4. Interact with others - maybe effective

Interpersonal relationships are good for both the brain and the heart. Studies have shown that there is a link between social activities and improving brain health. Maria Aranda, executive director of the University of Southern California's USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, says social networking can connect neurons.

However, socializing doesn't mean watching Netflix with friends. The activities that make your brain work will bring additional benefits. Plan a trip with friends, visit the museum with your kids, take a walk or jog with your exercise partner, or try something new, like learning a foreign language with a colleague.

Unfortunately, the diet and nutrition habits of those who have little or no social time are different from those who have social relationships. Making a balanced meal for one person may sound like a chore, so they may end up eating toast and coffee as a snack. Although they all know that malnutrition can affect brain function.

5. Manage your stress - maybe effective

Aranda said that although there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, other medical diseases, even depression, can cause memory and attention problems.

She said that high stress is a risk factor to dementia, together with poor eating habits, reduced physical activity, increased social isolation, and self-treatment through alcohol or drugs. All these could be the factors that cause memory impairment.

At the same time, excessive stress and anxiety can even lead to changes in the brain. For instance, high levels of anxiety and long-term stress can cause changes in the brain, i.e. the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, which deal with emotions, thinking, and memory. The hippocampus is one of the first sites of Alzheimer's disease. But it's too early to link stress directly to dementia, and other factors may also be involved.

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