Aging

4 Easy Ways to Reduce Brain Aging and Stay Sharp as a Tack

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Morning to night, your brain is busy juggling to-do’s and loved ones’ activities — and you’re relying on that powerhouse to stay on task for years to come. Good news: The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its first-ever set of guidelines on how to reduce your risk of brain aging and dementia, and it’s as simple as…  

Tending to the garden.

Staying active and fit will cut your risk of dementia by as much as 88 percent, suggests research in the journal Neurology. Explains study co-author Lena Johansson, PhD, keeping your heart and lungs strong allows them to shuttle more oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to your brain. And you don’t have to join a gym to get this brain boost. WHO researchers say 42 minutes (total!) daily of gardening, house-cleaning, or any movement does the trick.

Tossing berries in salad.

Add 1 cup of leafy greens and 1 cup of berries to your daily diet, and you’ll cut your dementia risk by as much as 45 percent, WHO research suggests. Turns out, these superfoods are packed with nutrients (lutein and anthocyanins) that nourish and energize hardworking brain cells. Bonus: A daily dose of greens and berries can give you the memory and focus you had six years ago.

Stretching out to read.

Take 20 minutes twice daily to do something soothing — like listening to soothing background music while you fold laundry or taking a reading break — and your blood pressure could drop nine points in one week. Why does that matter? Because WHO researchers say keeping your blood pressure in the healthy range — ideally, below 120/80 — prevents wear and tear on delicate brain arteries, cutting your risk of dementia by as much as 33 percent.

Snoozing a little longer.

“While you’re sleeping, a circulatory system in your brain clears away wastes before they age your brain cells,” says neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, author of Brain Maker ($18.37, Amazon). Indeed, Cornell University researchers say getting seven to eight hours of sleep nightly can cut the risk of memory issues by 44 percent, and heighten focus, concentration, and memory in just 72 hours. 

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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