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As you age, there will be changes in your brain and body. There are things you can do that will slow down your memory loss and reduce your chance of getting Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

These are the six things that I recommend to my patients, ranked in order of importance.
1. Exercise regularly.
Regular exercise has many benefits. Multiple studies have shown that people who are physically active are less likely to suffer from a adata-di_id=”di_id-2735c589-81114997b” href=”–health/memory loss” title=”Opens the same window.”>decline in mental function and a lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

This is due to increased blood flow to the brain from exercise. It can reverse some of the effects of aging on brain connections, and counteract some of them.

You should exercise at least 30-60 minutes each day. You can exercise by walking, swimming, playing tennis, or any other moderate aerobic activity that increases heart rate.

2. Sleep well.
Your brain health is dependent on your sleep. According to some theories, sleep can help clear brain abnormalities and consolidate memories. This will increase your overall memory and brain health.

You should aim for 7 to 8 hours sleep each night. This is not the same as getting two or three hours per hour. Consecutive sleep allows your brain to consolidate and retain your memories efficiently. Sleep apnea can cause problems in your brain’s health, and may be the reason you have trouble getting enough sleep. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor.

3. Eat a Mediterranean diet.
Your brain health is directly affected by your diet. You might consider a Mediterranean diet that emphasizes whole foods, plant-based foods, fish, and healthy fats such as olive oil. It contains less red meat and salt that a typical American diet.

Research shows that people who follow a Mediterranean diet are less likely than those who don’t. More research is required to identify which aspects of the diet are most beneficial for brain function. We know that omega fatty acid found in extra-virgin oil and other healthy fats is vital for proper cell function. It appears to reduce your risk of developing coronary artery disease, improve mental focus, and slow down cognitive decline in older people.

4. Keep your mind active.
Your brain is like a muscle. You must use it or lose. You can keep your brain healthy by doing Sudoku or crossword puzzles, reading, playing cards, and putting together a puzzle. It can be used to cross-train your brain. To increase your effectiveness, you can incorporate different activities.

The majority of health care professionals don’t recommend paid brain-training programs. These programs are often unrealistic and focus on memorization skills that don’t apply in daily life. Reading or solving puzzles can give your brain a great workout. Don’t watch TV too often as it is passive and doesn’t stimulate your brain.

5. Stay socially active
Memory loss can be prevented by social interaction and stress management. If you are living alone, look for ways to connect with friends, family, and loved ones. Research shows that brain atrophy can be caused by isolation. Therefore, it is important to keep your brain active and healthy.

6. Keep your blood vessels in good condition.
Your heart health and brain health depend on the health of your veins and arteries. Regularly have your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure checked. Take steps to maintain a normal range.

To lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, increase your physical activity and eat a Mediterranean-style diet. Tobacco and alcohol consumption can also have a negative impact on brain health. Don’t smoke and limit your alcohol intake. Moderate drinking refers to a maximum of one drink per day for women, and two for men.