Cognitive functions are not only memory. It is the ability to speak, the ability to concentrate attention, the ability to recognize objects (by sight, hearing, touch); the ability to make purposeful movements.
The term "dementia" comes from the Latin dementia, insanity. Indeed, in addition to memory impairment and loss of the ability to perform certain actions, people with dementia may also change behaviorally - becoming aggressive or, conversely, showing indifference and apathy.
There are many risk factors that contribute to the development of dementia. They are divided into unmodifiable, i.e., factors that cannot be changed, and potentially modifiable, i.e., those that can be corrected. Modifiable factors include cardiovascular disease, obesity, unhealthy habits, and low levels of physical and social activity. By following a few simple healthy habits, we can influence these factors.
So, let's see, what can be done to prevent cognitive changes today to try to avoid dementia in the future?
1. Weight is all head. Excess body weight is a risk factor for cognitive changes. You can calculate your optimal body weight in relation to your height with the Body Mass Index formula. Body Mass Index is defined as body weight divided by the square of the body height, the conditional norm starts from a BMI of 18.5 to 24. Anything above 25 is considered overweight. If BMI is higher than the norm, it is useful to visit a nutritionist or endocrinologist for the selection of appropriate therapy. If the figures are normal, it is necessary to maintain these figures. First of all, pay attention to your diet. You can use a convenient format for dietary recommendations - a "healthy" plate, where half is taken up by vegetables, that is, fiber, and the other half is divided by slow carbohydrates and protein. Minimize the intake of saturated fats, try to give preference to foods that contain unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oils, fish and avocados. Reduce salt and sugar, remembering that these ingredients are not only in their pure form (salt and sugar), but in almost all foods. Give preference to pure water - reduce your intake of juices and sodas, this will help reduce sugar intake, and prevent dehydration of the body.
2. active toward longevity. The second step to cognitive health, of course, is physical activity! Walking, jogging, yoga, Pilates, gymnastics, strength training, team games, swimming - literally anything that is financially, logistically, and physically accessible to you will do. Exercise will not only reduce the risks of future vascular problems, but it will also help you feel much better, including a beneficial effect on sleep.
3. How about a good night's sleep? Healthy sleep is another key to cognitive health. Stress and insomnia, going to bed too late not only affect your appearance, but also have a bad effect on your cognitive health. Try to go to bed at the same time and sleep for 7 to 8.5 hours. To sleep soundly and well It will be useful to air the room before resting, not to overeat at night, and to limit the time you use gadgets.
4. train your brain! It may sound surprising, but the brain, like other muscles in the body, needs a workout - or more accurately, the neural connections need a workout. The structural unit of the brain is the nerve cell, the neuron. Simply put, during human life, they form "bridges" between them that allow a person to perform certain actions, think, and build logical chains. Unfortunately, closer to adulthood neural connections start to go the opposite way - they can weaken and degrade, so our task is to support and train them. A great option would be special brain exercises or cognitive gymnastics, neurogymnastics. Effective exercises for brain training could be: solving crossword puzzles, puzzles or Sudoku, learning new things, reading, writing by hand, doing the usual actions with the other hand (for example, brushing your teeth with the left hand instead of the right hand), changing the usual route, such as from work to home or vice versa, to a new one. This kind of exercise should be done regularly, it does not take much time and does not require special space or equipment.
Andrey N. Ilnitsky, M.D., professor, head of the Department of Therapy, Geriatrics and Anti-Aging Medicine of the Academy of Postgraduate Education of the Federal Scientific Clinical Center of FMBA of Russia, member of the Board of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics, board member of the European Society of Geriatric Medicine notes: "Exercises for the brain promotes the development of connections between brain cells, which leads to an increase in brain plasticity. In this case, even if there is an obstacle in the way of nerve impulses in the form of amyloid plaque, which are the basis for the development of Alzheimer's disease, the brain is able to establish connections between cells and ensure that the nerve impulse bypasses the obstacle. In this case, the person can maintain normal behavior, functional ability for a longer period of time and cognitive functions, i.e. attention, memory and the ability to control oneself, are not affected. Thus, brain exercises are an important factor in increasing brain plasticity and maintaining healthy behavior, even if there is a developing brain lesion, such as in neurodegenerative dementias, which includes Alzheimer's disease."
5. Combining the pleasant with the useful so to speak. An external stimulus, such as a lively discussion, a trip to an exhibition, or learning a new skill, is precisely the trigger for building neural connections. You can start learning a foreign language, enroll in art classes or any other. Make it a rule to attend one event a week/month (if possible, the main thing is regularity!). Attend concerts and exhibitions in your company, so you can be with your loved ones more often and share pleasant emotions.