Brain health basics

Your brain is incredible. Made up of around 100 billion nerve cells, it controls your movement, your emotions and stores your precious memories.

It takes care of the small things too, like helping you find your keys in the morning.

Sadly, the physical diseases that cause dementia – like Alzheimer’s disease – can take all of this away by damaging these cells and the connections between them.

The good news is you can take steps to keep your brain healthy, just as you can improve other parts of your physical health. And the more physically fit your brain is, the harder it can be for these diseases to take hold.

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 know if or how you should be doing more to protect it?

Our Chief Medical Officer, Prof Jon Schott, says there are several ways you can help keep your brain healthy.

“The actions you can take to protect your brain can broadly be broken down into three groups – things you do to look after your heart, stay mentally sharp, and maintain connections with loved ones and the world around you.”

“It’s never too early and never too late to start thinking about your brain health” adds Prof Schott, “but research suggests that making positive changes in your forties and fifties may be particularly important."

This is because changes in the brain associated with dementia start many years before we see symptoms, so efforts to reduce risk are likely to have the biggest impact in midlife.

There’s no sure-fire way to prevent dementia yet, because age and genetics also play a role, but taking care of your brain will help stack the odds in your favour.

So there’s never been a better time to Think Brain Health.

"The way I keep my brain ticking over is by meeting friends and family every Saturday for a parkrun and a coffee and catch-up afterwards. Of course, COVID-19 has temporarily put a stop to that but I’ve been making extra effort to keep in touch with friends virtually."


Brain health - shot of Andy

Three simple rules

Now that you’ve got to grips with the brain health basics, here are our three simple rules for looking after your brain.

Why brain health starts with your heart

Want to give your brain some love? Research tells us that the most important thing you can do is be kind to your heart.