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There are many different disorders and diseases that can affect the brain. Many of them share risk factors. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there is emerging evidence suggesting that there are preventive measures you can take to maintain brain health. Here are several ways to keep your brain healthy.
Tobacco use is linked to stroke, brain aneurysm, and dementia. According to the National Stroke Association, smoking doubles the risk of a stroke in individuals who smoke compared to people who don’t smoke.
Studies have shown that one drink per day for women and two for men can protect against dementia. Heavy alcohol use and binge drinking, however, can cause dementia, stroke, and brain aneurysm.
Important numbers to watch include blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels. High blood pressure and cholesterol levels and poorly controlled diabetes are all associated with Alzheimer's disease, brain aneurysm, and stroke. You can lower blood pressure and cholesterol by reducing the amount of sodium and increasing the amount of fiber in your diet.
Hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) is associated with stroke, brain aneurysm, and dementia. In addition, many other heart problems like arrhythmia, valve defects, and heart infections can increase stroke risk. If you show signs of heart disease, your doctor may recommend daily aspirin therapy to reduce your heart attack and stroke risk.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish contain high amounts of nutrients like antioxidants and fatty acids. According to AARP, antioxidants are chemicals in fruits and vegetables that protect cells from damage caused by oxygen free radicals in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids are chemicals found in large quantities in nuts and fatty fish such as salmon and sardines. Fatty acids help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels and may reduce brain inflammation and aid in brain function.
Seatbelts, helmets, and similar safety features greatly reduce the severity of concussion or other head injury in an accident. Head injury can also lead to epilepsy.
Exercise can lower cholesterol and blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy body weight, all of which reduce stroke risk.
Keeping the brain sharp by interacting with others and engaging in intellectually stimulating activities have been found to prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Medically reviewed on: Sep 02, 2014: Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, MBA
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