Is dementia inevitable as we age? Not necessarily, says neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent. “[The] first time I ever operated on the brain, you know, close to 30 years ago now, it was a mystical experience,” Dr. Gupta says. “You can’t believe that those three-and-a-half pounds are everything to us — all of our pain, all of our joy, all of our memories, all of our learning, everything.” Here are five ways to protect your brain and prevent dementia, according to Dr Gupta. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Dr. Gupta recommends berries for brain health. “They always say, ‘Apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ I think when it comes to the brain, it’s berries,” says Dr. Gupta. “Berries, in terms of what they can do for the brain and some of these certain chemicals that they release, are probably gonna be one of your best foods.”
Want to keep your brain young? Learn new things. “The act of experiencing something new — or even doing something that’s typical for you, but in a different way — can all generate these new brain cells,” says Dr. Gupta. “We want to constantly be using new paths and trails and roads within our brain.”
Exercise is beneficial for every aspect of wellbeing—and especially brain health. “When you move, it’s almost like you’re signaling to the body and to the brain, ‘I wanna be here. I’m not ready to go!’ What the brain specifically releases [are] these things called neurotrophins; these good chemicals are sort of nourishing the brain,” Dr. Gupta says.
“What do we know about communities that have the best brain health in the world?” says Dr. Gupta. “They tend to be active, have rich social connections, and don’t hang on to their anxieties. Even communities that have failing grades on classic measures of health like cholesterol and smoking seem to be buffered in terms of brain health because of social connections… Taking brisk walks with a friend and talking about your problems is a reliable way to keep your brain healthy, both immediately and in the long run.”
Sleep is incredibly important for brain health and preventing dementia, so make sure to get the CDC-recommended amount of seven hours a night. “The brain is a remarkably complicated organ,” says Dr. Gupta. “When you go to sleep at night, it’s taking the experiences you had throughout the day and consolidating them into memory. Why do we even have experiences if we’re not going to do the things necessary to remember them, right? We’re learning that the brain is constantly sort of going through this ‘rinse cycle’ at night.” And to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.