With a new case of dementia diagnosed every 4 seconds, is there anything you can actually do to improve your mind and slow down the ageing process? Here, we investigate five ways you can potentially slow down your brain's ageing.
You've been told to exercise because it's good for your waistline and general wellbeing, but did you know that a workout also puts your brain through its paces? A meta-analytic review in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that aerobic exercise training is associated with modest improvements in attention, processing speed and memory, although it did concede that more research needs to be carried out before it gets a scientific seal-of-approval.
Change your diet
Another meta-analysis of current research, this time published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, indicates that those who follow a Mediterranean diet (consisting of fish, fresh fruit and veg, bread and pasta, and less of a reliance on meat) reduce the risk of early on-set brain ageing. So try swapping steak for salmon and give the Mediterranean diet a go.
Go to bed
Look to get between six and eight hours sleep. According to research published in Plos One, six to eight hours is the amount required for optimum brain function. The University of Warwick's Professor Francesco Cappuccio concludes that optimising sleep may help to delay the decline in brain function that is seen with age, or may even slow or prevent the rapid decline that leads to dementia. So, as good as the new series of House of Cards is, maybe it's time to stop those nightly Netflix marathons, switch off the phone and get some sleep – it will probably be better for your brain's health in the long-run.
Another reason for you to quit
We give you support and tips on how to give them up, but another reason to stop smoking is because of the link between cigarettes and developing dementia in later life. According to a report by Alzheimer's Disease International, ex-smokers and current smokers combined had a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's than non-smokers. It also concluded that there was a non-significant trend for general dementia in smokers, but the potential risks are surely another reason to quit for good.
Give brain games a go
The research into the actual benefits of brain games is fairly inconclusive, with opposing sides who have clear pro and anti stances. But, even if they aren't slowing down the ageing process, “brain training” smartphone apps aren't necessarily a bad thing – If you enjoy them and they are a distraction from the morning commute, keep playing.