Six Steps to Brain Health




Most of what you read or hear about dementia says there aren’t many things you can do to prevent it or to slow it down. As researchers work toward improved medical treatments, there are things you can do in your life that reduce your risk and, typically, help you feel better. Think of these as the Big Six – six lifestyle categories.


While there are some things you definitely cannot change, like your genes, these lifestyle changes have been shown to positively impact brain health:


  • Healthy Eating
  • Exercise Regularly
  • Good Night's Sleep
  • Manage Stress
  • Stimulate the Mind
  • Social Engagement


Regular exercise has also been shown to be associated with reduced risk of dementia and with improvements in cognition. Exercise can also improve your mood and help you sleep better! Some good forms of exercise:

  • Aerobic exercises (get heart rate up)
  • Anaerobic exercises (build strength)
  • A brisk walk, a swim, dancing - anything that gets you moving or makes you sweat!

If exercising is new to you, start slow with 10 minutes at a time, and build up to 30-45 minutes, 5x a week!



The MIND diet combines two healthy-eating programs into one - the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Hypertension).


  • 3 servings of whole grains daily
  • 1 leafy green and 1 other vegetable daily
  • Nuts for snacks (not chips!)
  • Beans/legumes every other day or so
  • Berries (especially blue!) at least 2x/week
  • Poultry (e.g., chicken or turkey) 2x/week
  • Fish 1x/week
  • An occasional glass of wine
  • Olive oil
  • Limit your intake of these designated unhealthy foods:
  • Butter or margarine (less than 1 Tbsp./day)
  • Sweets and pastries (5 or fewer/week)
  • Whole fat cheese (1 oz., 2x/week)
  • Fried or fast food (every other week)

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center, led by Martha Clare Morris, ScD, found that older adults who followed the MIND diet rigorously showed an equivalent of being 7.5 years younger cognitively than those who did not closely follow the diet. But even those who followed it less closely, meaning they followed some aspects of the diet but not all, still showed some benefit.




Besides making us feel more alert and awake, sleep can help prevent the build up of proteins involved in Alzheimer’s disease and also helps us form new memories. A good night’s sleep can be hard to come by. Some tips:

  • Stay in bed only as long as you need to feel well rested
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule - try to get up at the same time every day, no matter what!
  • Keep naps brief, 45-60 minutes max
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, especially in the evenings
  • Don’t lie awake. If you can’t get to sleep after more than 10-20 minutes, get up and do something quiet (no electronic screens!)



Have you heard that working puzzles helps keep your brain agile? The key is to challenge yourself! Mental activities where you are interacting, like playing a game, a musical instrument, or learning a new language, appear to have protective effects on the brain. Make yourself think new-to-you thoughts, be curious, and have fun so you’ll stick with it!



Research studies have shown that chronic stress exposure is associated with degeneration in areas of the brain also impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. Also, treatable mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression can sometimes mimic dementia. By consulting a clinician, it may be possible to reverse some damage done by reducing chronic stressors.




Your brain likes to visit! Socializing seems to reduce dementia risk according to several studies, as reported in the 2020 Lancet report on dementia prevention. Those who engaged in social pursuits had a decreased risk of dementia. Go have a chat!

MIND diet
sleeping brain
stress ball
card game social
CMS Login