Whether it's becoming a Sudoku champion or remembering the name of someone you just met, everyone probably wishes they could muster up a little extra brain power. There are no quick fixes when it comes to improving (or preventing the decline of) cognitive functions like memory, info processing, or critical thinking, but there are some very basic steps you can take to keep your brain as healthy as possible.
"A lot of things that should be recommended for reducing dementia are actually just common sense and work for general health too," says Dr. Joe Verghese, professor of neurology and medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "The challenge is getting people to do it." Eating right, exercising, and staying mentally active top the list of brain-health boosters, but they aren't the only options.
1. Keep Learning
A lot of research has found that education provides some protection from waning mental function. The theory is that people with more education have a greater cognitive reserve, basically something of an extra buffer against the effects of decline. But it's a bit of a double-edged sword. "People who are more highly educated tend to get Alzheimer's at a later age but once they get it, they're getting it at a higher load of the disease and appear to decline at a faster rate," says Verghese.
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