6 Tips for Powering Up Your Brain

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Between 2000 and 2017 deaths from heart disease have decreased 9% while deaths from alzheimer’s have increased 145%.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.8 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2019.

By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia may grow to a projected 13.8 million, barring no medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or cure the disease.

Not only is it difficult coming to terms with a loved one’s memory loss, but it can add additional stress to everyday activities around the house.

This is why dementia is such a difficult road to navigate for so many people and families around the world. While there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s dementia yet, a lot of research is being done to try to find treatments and practices that can slow or prevent cognitive decline.

The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Ohio is one of the leading research centers for dementia. And so far, they’ve found six lifestyle changes that can improve brain health.

If you’re struggling with memory problems or you have a family history of dementia, it’s never too late to make some simple changes to your lifestyle that can improve your chances of fighting memory loss.

Here are the Cleveland Clinic’s six pillars of a healthy brain:

Pillar 1: Physical Exercise

“What’s good for your heart is good for your brain.”

People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, says the Cleveland Clinic.

Exercise improves blood flow and memory; it stimulates chemical changes in the brain that enhance learning, mood and thinking. Even if you’ve never exercised, any physical activity is better than none at all.

What kind of exercise is best?

Endurance exercise, like running, swimming or biking, has been shown to foster new brain cell growth and preserve existing brain cells.

Strength training, like lifting weights or using resistance bands, builds muscle, strengthens your bones, and improves your mood. It can also enhance concentration and increase your decision-making skills.

Flexibility/balance training, like Yoga and Tai Chi can improve your posture, reduce risk of injuries and falls, and improve your overall movement and ability to do things better throughout life. Even simple exercises like standing on one foot or walking backward have proven helpful.

Pillar 2: Food & Nutrition

“Eat smart, think better.”

As you age, your brain is exposed to more harmful stress due to lifestyle and environmental factors. This leads to oxidation of your brain cells.

Imagine what a cut apple looks like after it’s left on a counter for 5 minutes. That browning is oxidation and the same general idea is what’s happening to your brain as you get old.

Luckily, there are lots of antioxidants available in food that can help protect your brain from these harmful effects.

Research shows that a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fish, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, olives, and nuts helps maintain brain health and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, says the Cleveland Clinic.

The MIND and DASH diets are also good options to consider. Of course, if you’re at risk of developing diabetes, follow the diet your doctor recommends.

There is a high correlation between diabetes and dementia. Some researchers have even referred to dementia as Type 3 Diabetes. To protect your brain, you need to keep your blood sugar levels in check and that starts with what you eat.

Pillar 3: Medical Health

“Control medical risks.”

Hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, head trauma, higher cholesterol, and smoking all increase the risk of dementia, says the Cleveland Clinic. However, you can control and reduce almost all these risks if you’re proactive.

Getting your annual check-up, following your doctor’s recommendations and taking medications as prescribed can all help lower your risks.

If you have diabetes or are on the verge of becoming diabetic, you can reduce the risk by following these tips says the Cleveland Clinic:

  • Avoid white sugar, white flour and hydrogenated fat.
  • Eat more fiber.
  • Eat some protein with every meal.
  • Control portion size.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week.
  • Include aerobic, strength, flexibility and balance.

Another major risk factor for dementia is high blood pressure. The Cleveland Clinic recommends following these tips to reduce hypertension:

  • Cut down on salt (less than one teaspoon a day).
  • Check your blood pressure regularly.
  • Keep active.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Take your medication.
  • Aim to keep blood pressure under 120/80 mmHg.

Pillar 4: Sleep & Relaxation

“Rest well.”

Sleep energizes you, improves your mood and your immune system, and may reduce buildup in the brain of an abnormal protein called beta-amyloid plaque, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, says the Cleveland Clinic.

Getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night is a must. And to ensure a good night’s sleep, you need a completely dark, quiet, and cool bedroom. You should not be able to see your hand five inches away from your face with the lights out.

Meditation is also a great way to relax and has been shown to reduce cognitive decline. Other ways to reduce stress are saying “no” more often, writing down all the things that bother you, and using imagery to anchor your emotions.

Pillar 5: Mental Fitness

“Use your mind, or lose it.”

You have something called “brain reserve,” which helps your brain adapt and respond to changes and resist damage, says the Cleveland Clinic.

People who continue to learn, embrace new activities, and develop new skills and interests are building and improving their brain reserve. That’s why working at a challenging job, going back to school, or taking classes can all expand your brain reserve.

Other mentally stimulating activities, like crossword puzzles, chess, puzzles, and card games have all been shown to help improve brain health. Even playing electronic “brain games” may help improve your reaction time and problem-solving ability.

Pillar 6: Social Interaction

“Stay connected.”

A rich social network provides sources of support, reduces stress, combats depression and enhances intellectual stimulation. Studies have shown that those with the most social interaction within their community experience the slowest rate of memory decline, says the Cleveland Clinic.

Leading an active social life is the key to protecting your memory. Joining clubs and volunteering are great ways to keep your network alive. Even adopting a pet can improve your brain health.

Pets can calm us down, boost our immunity, improve our heart health, keep us moving, and enhance our social life, says the Cleveland Clinic.

Overall, lifestyle has a profound effect on your brain health. What you eat and drink, how much you exercise, how well you sleep, the way you socialize, and how you manage stress all play important roles in keeping your brain healthy. It’s never too late to make some of these small changes, you can even start today.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

Nilus Mattive

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Over 50? The Important Investment you NEED to Make…

This post Over 50? The Important Investment you NEED to Make… appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

What do you call an investment that has no risk, requires little — if any — money to start, is available equally to the rich and poor, is proven to improve your career prospects…  can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings over a lifetime?

I call it good health.

Although you might view spending on your health as a necessary expense, I’d argue it’s an investment that will pay back dividends.

Health is one of the least talked about financial topics but arguably the most important. 

Without good health, it doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank because you won’t ever be able to enjoy it if you’re always sick.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the average individual will rack up $220,000 worth of health expenses in retirement.

It should come as no surprise, but getting old is not cheap.

There are, however, proven things you can do today that will help decrease your health costs tomorrow.

For instance, one study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that weight loss at any age leads to cost savings. The study found it costs people more when they’re overweight – especially as they age.

According to the study:

  • A 20-year-old adult who goes from obese to overweight would save an average of $17,655 in direct medical costs and productivity losses over their lifetime. If that person went from obese to a healthy weight, the savings would jump to $28,020.
  • If a 40-year-old adult goes from being obese to overweight, that person potentially can save an average of $18,262. If that person improves their health from obese to a healthy weight, an average savings of $31,447 in direct medical costs and productivity losses can follow.

Cost savings peak at age 50, according to the study. At 50, you save an average of $36,278. The study concluded by saying that at nearly any age there can be a cost savings if you improve your weight.

Aside from losing weight, what other aspects of your health can be improved to help your bank account?

I’ve identified three key areas you should focus on. Here they are…

#1 Start Eating Healthy

Harvard estimates it costs an extra $1.50 to eat healthy per day.

That’s an extra $550 per year.

The benefits of eating healthy are: reduced inflammation, a strong immune system to help fight off diseases and infection, lower Body Mass Index (BMI), which drastically reduces risks for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver disease.

Actually, Type 2 diabetes is one of the most preventable diseases.

Type 1 is genetic and you’re typically diagnosed as a child or teenager. But Type 2 diabetes is heavily influenced by your lifestyle.

An estimated 30.3 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes. And it’s estimated that you spend 2.3x more on health care than someone without diabetes.

According to the CDC, the average cost of medical expenses for people with diagnosed diabetes is about $13,700 per year.

Let’s imagine you live with Type 2 diabetes for 30 years. From age 40 to age 70.

Without inflation, that’s $411,000 just to take care of your diabetes. And that doesn’t account for other health issues that will inevitably arise due to the stress placed on your body.

Now contrast that to spending an extra $1.50 per day on food and it’s a no brainer.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated either. There are plenty of proven healthy diets that work like the Mediterranean Diet and the Blue Zone Diet.

#2 Exercise More

Consider going on a “car diet.”

Look for opportunities to drive less. Walk, bike, take city transit. These will all save you money while incorporating some exercise.

Getting in quality exercise should not cost you very much. Forget about buying expensive running shoes, home exercise equipment, or boutique gym memberships.

The biggest investment will be your time. But even that shouldn’t cost you a lot. The CDC recommends 30 minutes of moderate activity, 5 days a week, for adults. The American Heart Association and the World Health Organization agree.

Where can you find 30 minutes in your day?

Go for a morning walk before you start your day. Walk at lunch to clear your head. The outdoors are free. Take advantage.

By eating healthy and exercising more, you’re investing in your long-term health. But another benefit to exercise and a healthy diet is it decreases the frequency you will get sick.

By not getting sick as often, you don’t have to miss work, using up sick days or unpaid days if you’re out. You’ll have more energy to take care of your grandkids, and you lower your medical bills like prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.

#3 Eliminate Your Vices

This should go without saying but I’ll repeat it. You must eliminate any unhealthy habits that are costing you health and money.

An obvious culprit is cigarettes.

If you smoke, you’re literally burning money and years off your life. According to the CDC, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes is $6.28, which means a pack-a-day habit sets you back $188 per month or $2,292 per year. Ten years of smoking comes with a $22,920 price tag.

Another prime target are sugary drinks like Coca-Cola and calorie-loaded Starbucks drinks. Not only is it cheaper to drink water or regular coffee, you’ll be less likely to develop diabetes and other health-related issues.

By no means is quitting smoking or sugary beverages easy. But you need to try different approaches and figure out what works because you can’t keep hurting this up.

Your health should be part of your investment portfolio if it’s already not. It doesn’t matter if you’re conservative, modest, or you’re aggressive in your approach, what matters is you prioritize your health so you can live a truly wealthy life.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

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