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How to Make Your Brain Healthier

- Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What if you spent a week eating the right diet, exercising and stimulating your brain with fun-to-do mind games?

How about adding some stress-reduction techniques?

What if you did all this and, at the end of the week, got proof your brain was healthier?

And suppose you saw these benefits no matter what age you started - 40, 60, even 80?

A healthier brain usually means greater longevity; and greater longevity with less fear of developing Alzheimer's.

It's not only possible, it's probable that a personalized program can build individual brain strength, says Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center at the university's Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior.
Small developed a breakthrough program for keeping brains younger. His new book is "The Alzheimer's Prevention Program: Keep Your Brain Healthy for the Rest of Your Life."

Here is a conversation with Small about the quizzes and self-evaluation included in his new book:

Q: What can be done? There are some 80 million baby boomers starting to reach 65, and studies show that right now, 1 in every 2 people will develop some sort of dementia by their 80s. That means 40 million people!

A: We can't guarantee some of these people won't get dementia, because genetics are partially to blame here. But the idea of the book is to take care of what you can and stave off symptoms as long as possible.

A brain-healthy lifestyle should let you stave off symptoms for at least four or more years. The hard part is to make those healthy behaviors routine for people.

Q: What's your plan?

A: Educate people so they understand the connections between good behavior and good health. Introduce some brain games that are easy, stimulating and work!

Q: Is this program for everyone?

A: It has two important components: It will bolster brain health and it will help you with age-related cognitive decline.

Q: How quickly can I expect results?

A: If you've been sick and on your back, when you feel better you start physical therapy. And you start at a lower level and train until you get to the next level. With memory exercises, you build up gradually also.

Q: What do you tell people they need to do as they age?

It's important to take control of your brain health. Genetics only determine the future for about a third of us. If we learn to eat right, exercise and manage stress right now, it will help us so much in the future. It could even increase your life expectancy.
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