As a Naturopathic Doctor focusing on holistic brain health care, I’m often astounded by the alarming statistics surrounding Alzheimer’s disease. Especially its prevalence in women.
Did you know that a staggering 70% of Alzheimer’s cases are diagnosed in women? This shocking number emphasizes the critical need for awareness and proactive measures in maintaining women’s brain health.
In Ontario, at our Brain Health Clinic, we recognize the urgency of addressing this issue. The brain changes that lead to Alzheimer’s don’t happen overnight. They start developing 30-40 years before any symptoms are evident! If you’re a woman, the best time to start working on your brain health is now.
In this article, I am going to be sharing the 6 foundational pillars of brain health from the Women’s Brain Health Initiative. If you prefer to watch this instead, then check out my youtube video by CLICKING HERE.
Let’s get protecting.
Pillar #1 - Exercise & Women'sBrain Health
Physical activity plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy brain. Studies show that high levels of activity can reduce dementia by up to 35%. This is because exercise improves blood flow to our brain. More blood flow to our brain means that our brain gets more oxygen and nutrients. More oxygen and nutrients equals a happy brain!
Exercise even boosts a process called neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is the process of producing new brain cells! How amazing is that? Exercise literally helps your brain produce new cells. Exercise also alters your brain’s immune cell activity which ultimately lowers inflammation in the brain.
When I’m talking about exercise here, I don’t just mean going to the gym and doing a crazy 1 hour workout. That’s great if you can fit it in. But, even the physical activity we get when we run errands counts!
At our Brain Health Clinic in Ontario, we encourage women to embrace a physically active lifestyle as a cornerstone of holistic brain health. If you’re a woman who is looking for brain health support, CLICK HERE to book a free assessment and let’s chat about it.
Ultimately, the more reasons you find to move your body during the day, the better that your brain will feel.
Pillar #2 - Social Activity & Women's Brain Health
Loneliness can literally kill. In countless studies it has shown to be a risk factor of early death in the elderly.
Positive social interactions are so good for our brain. They help our brain in becoming more agile and increase our brain’s capacity to handle challenges.
Studies have also shown that people who interact more are less susceptible to risk factors like depression, obesity and alcohol misuse, as well as tend to have a stronger immune system.
What’s great here is that it’s not just spending hours with friends that count! But, even the small day-day interactions that we have at the local grocery store, or flower shop count. Honestly, those are sometimes some of my favourite interactions that leave me smiling the rest of the day.
Pillar #3 - Mental Stimulation & Women's Brain Health
This one simply refers to you doing things in different ways. We all get so caught up in the same routine and same patterns, but our brain loves newness!
An example could be you challenging your brain by taking a new route without relying so heavily on google maps! Or if you eat with your right hand, try it with your left. You could even spend 10 min a day trying to learn a new language.
Depending on what stage of life you are in, you already might have a lot of mental stimulation! This pillar doesn’t mean to stress yourself out more by adding more things on your to-do list. It simply means to take the things that you are already doing and see if you can do them differently to challenge your brain.
This pillar becomes that much more important as you age! 30% of older adults have enough beta-amyloid plaques to get a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, but they don’t show any symptoms because they’re constantly stimulating their mind!
By-the-way, if you’re wondering what beta-amyloid plaques are, they are essentially protein pieces that clump together in our brain and prevent it from functioning appropriately! They are the cornerstone of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Pillar #4 - Diet & Women's Brain Health
The food you put into your body has a direct impact on your brain!
This is what your brain uses as fuel to function. If the fuel isn’t right, then your brain literally can’t function the way that it should.
One of the best diets that has been recommended for our brain health is the MIND diet. The MIND diet was specifically created to prevent cognitive decline.
This diet emphasizes brain health foods like green leafy vegetables, nuts and berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and yes, even red wine. It lists some foods to avoid like red meat, butter, margarine, cheese, pastries, sweets, and fried and fast foods.
At the Women’s Brain Health Clinic in Ontario, we emphasize the importance of eating lots of colourful plant foods. The diet we focus on is everything in moderation. If 80-90% of the time you are choosing the right foods for your body, then you can enjoy what you want the rest 10-20% of the time. If you want a dietary protocol specific to you, to help you meet your brain health goals, then CLICK HERE to book a free brain health assessment with me.
Pillar #5 - Sleep & Women's Brain Health
Having enough sleep is critical for our brain! It helps us focus better the next day, consolidates memory, and it even clears away waste proteins like the beta-amyloid plaques that build up in our brain!
I don’t know about you, but I literally turning into a raging bi**h the next day if I don’t get enough sleep. This is the #1 pillar that I work on. I find that when I get enough sleep, I make healthier choices for myself the next day.
Also, not getting enough sleep has been linked to other diseases like depression, obesity and hypertension which are all risk factors for dementia.
In terms of the number of hours of sleep, 7 hours/night has been associated with the best outcomes!
Pillar #6 - Stress Management & Women's Brain Health
This is the last pillar and an important one!
Stress can be a good thing if we know how to manage it and if we believe we have the capacity to manage it. Unfortunately, a lot of us experience large amounts of stress that make us question our ability to handle it.
Stress over time can lead to increased blood pressure, blood sugar and inflammation, and it negatively impacts our sleep.
Learning how to manage stress effectively and increasing your stress tolerance is one of the best things that you can do for your brain health.
At the Women’s Brain Health clinic in Ontario, Canada, we understand the uniqueness of each individual’s journey. We’re dedicated to helping you create a customized plan that caters to your specific needs. Whether you’re looking to enhance your exercise regimen, fine-tune your diet, or develop effective stress management techniques, we’re here to guide you every step of the way.
In conclusion, women’s brain health is a topic of extreme importance and early intervention is key. By focusing on these six pillars, women can significantly enhance their brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Remember, it’s about making small, sustainable changes that add up to a significant impact!
If you’re ready to take the first step towards a healthier brain, CLICK HERE to book a free assessment at the Women’s Brain Health clinic. Together, we can embark on a journey towards a healthier, more vibrant brain.