Brain health basics

Your brain is incredible. It controls your movement, emotions and stores your precious memories.

Sadly, the physical diseases that cause dementia – like Alzheimer’s disease – can take all of this away.

There’s no sure-fire way to prevent dementia yet. That's because some of the things that shape our risk, including our age and our genes, we can’t change.

But others, like our diet and the things we do to challenge our brains, we can. In fact, the latest evidence suggests that up to 40% of all cases of dementia are linked to factors we may be able to influence.

If that’s news to you, you’re not alone. Only a third of people in the UK realise that it’s possible to reduce their dementia risk.

But when you can’t see your brain, how do you know what you should be doing to protect it?

Our Chief Medical Officer, Prof Jon Schott, says the ways to help keep your brain healthy can be broken down into three groups: things you can do to look after your heart, stay mentally sharp, and keep connected to the people around you.

It’s never too early to start making positive changes in these areas, because changes in the brain associated with dementia start many years before we see symptoms. But research suggests that taking steps to look after your brain in your forties and fifties may be particularly important.

Although we can’t yet prevent dementia altogether, following these three simple rules will help stack the odds in your favour:

Three simple rules

1.

Brain health keep-fit

Love your heart

What’s good for your heart is good for your brain. So by giving your heart some love, by staying active, or eating well for example, you’ll also be looking after your brain.

2.

Brain health reading

Stay sharp

Taking time for your mental wellbeing, getting a good night’s sleep and regularly challenging your brain in midlife can help protect it as you age.

3.

Brain health social gathering

Keep connected

Research suggests that social isolation is linked to an increased risk of dementia. So keeping connected to the people around you is a great way to give back to your brain.

"I keep my brain ticking over by meeting friends and family every Saturday for a parkrun and a coffee and catch-up afterwards. "

Andy

Brain health - shot of Andy