Dementia and other brain diseases usually afflict people in old age, but improving your habits and lifestyle as early as possible can help prevent them.
Today, we can all agree that looking out for our mental health cannot be separated from self-care. After all, our minds and our inner lives influence how we experience and perceive the world.
But there’s another layer to taking care of our mental well-being. While many of us have become more aware of psychological disorders like anxiety and depression, our minds also have a physical form: the brain. Like the body, the brain can become vulnerable to diseases that can negatively impact our quality of life. Below are some of the most common brain diseases, and how to help prevent them as early as now.
Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia
Dementia, as defined by the NIH, is the loss of cognitive functions, which include thinking, remembering, and reasoning, thus interfering with a person’s daily life and activities. Symptoms include memory loss, confusion, and changes in personality. Dementia comes in different forms—the most common being Alzheimer’s disease—and the differences boil down to the amount of various kinds of protein in certain areas of the brain.
To reduce your risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the NHS says that adopting a lifestyle that’s “good for your heart is also good for your brain.” It recommends eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol.
New studies also show that lack of sleep and poor quality of sleep, even at a young age, can make one likely to get dementia later in life. Getting seven hours of sleep each night has been shown to reduce risk.
This brain disorder causes the body to shake or twitch uncontrollably, and could also result in stiffness and poor balance and coordination. As a progressive brain disease, Parkinson’s begins gradually and then worsens over time, according to the NIH. Other symptoms include sleep problems, depression, and forgetfulness.
Parkinson’s disease happens when nerve cells in the brain become impaired. At the moment, there aren’t many ways to prevent it beyond having a balanced and healthy diet and exercising regularly. Johns Hopkins states on its website that the best way to reduce one’s risk is to stay strong and healthy.
Similar to Parkinson’s, ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is also a progressive neurodegenerative disease. The difference is that Parkinson’s only affects the brain, while ALS affects the neurons—at first in one area of the body, then spreading to different parts.
More research needs to be done to find ways to prevent ALS. The findings we have so far about prevention are only potential methods. A study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience points to the importance of eating food rich in antioxidants, fiber, and carotenes—which can be found in fruits and vegetables; it also advises avoiding fatty foods. As for exercise, it should be moderate to preserve cardiovascular fitness and brain function; high-intensity workouts are not recommended, since these can cause an imbalance in the antioxidants in one’s body and accelerate cell aging.
Treatments for any brain disease are not cheap. But Maxicare, as a pioneer in the health maintenance organization industry, can help with healthcare. It has healthcare programs for you and your family, so you and your loved ones can get the proper care and treatment that aligns with your budget.
If you need to find healthcare professionals for any brain disease, you can find a Maxicare affiliated doctor near you.
SOURCE: Summit Media