Six Lifestyle Choices to Slow Memory Decline and Reduce Dementia Risk 🧠

I am a professional jigsaw puzzle buyer. Yes, that job exists. 🤯 I am always on the hunt for the next big puzzle piece, both in terms of actual jigsaw puzzles and in the form of news articles and research studies that showcase the amazing benefits of solving jigsaw puzzles. Recently, I came across an article that suggests a combination of healthy lifestyle choices can help slow the rate of memory decline and reduce the risk of dementia.

Yes, jigsaw puzzles made the list! 🧩

Memory is a fundamental function of daily life that continuously declines as people age, impairing quality of life and productivity, and increasing the risk of dementia. However, this study suggests that combining multiple healthy lifestyle choices – the more the better – is linked with softening the speed of memory decline.

Practising multiple healthy lifestyle choices together “was associated with a lower probability of progression to mild cognitive impairment and dementia”, the researchers from the National Center for Neurological Disorders in Beijing, China, wrote in the BMJ. One of the healthy lifestyle choices included was cognitive activity like solving jigsaw puzzles or other brain games at least twice a week.

Jigsaw puzzles slow memory decline and reduce dementia risk

Six Proven Lifestyle Choices to Slow Memory Decline

1. Not smoking

Smoking is a known risk factor for cognitive decline and memory loss. Studies have shown that smoking can damage the brain by reducing blood flow and oxygen to the brain, as well as by increasing the risk of stroke and other conditions that can lead to cognitive decline. Additionally, smoking can lead to the formation of plaques and tangles in the brain, which are associated with Alzheimer's disease. Quitting smoking can help to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and memory loss, as well as other health problems such as cancer and heart disease.

2. Not drinking alcohol

Excessive alcohol consumption can have negative effects on cognitive function and memory. Heavy drinking can damage the brain by reducing the production of new brain cells, disrupting the connections between brain cells, and increasing the risk of stroke and other conditions that can lead to cognitive decline. Long-term heavy drinking can also lead to a condition called alcohol-related dementia, which can cause severe memory loss and other cognitive problems. Even moderate drinking may have negative effects on memory, especially if it is chronic. Quitting or reducing alcohol consumption can help to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and memory loss, as well as other health problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption such as liver disease, cancer and heart disease.

3. A healthy diet

Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and flavonoids, may help to protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nuts, and seeds may also be beneficial for cognitive function and memory. A diet that is high in saturated fat and added sugars, on the other hand, may increase the risk of cognitive decline and memory loss. Studies have also shown that obesity in midlife is associated with an increased risk of dementia.

4. Regular physical exercise

Regular physical exercise can improve blood flow to the brain, which can help to protect the brain from damage and promote the growth of new brain cells. Exercise can also increase the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins and BDNF, which can help to improve mood and cognitive function. Physical activity can also help to reduce stress, which can have a negative impact on cognitive function and memory. 

Aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming, has been found to be particularly beneficial for cognitive function and memory.

5. Cognitive activities

Participating in brain games, such as jigsaw puzzles, can be beneficial for maintaining cognitive function and memory. These types of activities engage the brain and stimulate neural connections, which can help to keep the brain active and healthy.

Jigsaw puzzles, in particular, can help to improve visual-spatial skills and working memory. These skills are important for tasks such as reading, navigation, and problem-solving. Jigsaw puzzles also require attention to detail and mental flexibility, which can help to improve these cognitive abilities and slow memory decline.

6. Socialising

People who have strong social connections have a lower risk of cognitive decline and memory loss compared to those who are socially isolated. Socialising can help to keep the brain active and healthy by stimulating conversation, sharing ideas and engaging in activities that require mental effort. For example, participating in social activities such as playing board games, doing jigsaw puzzles, or discussing current events can help to engage the brain and stimulate cognitive function.

Socialising can also have a positive impact on mental well-being by reducing stress and promoting feelings of happiness and fulfillment. These positive emotions can also have a positive impact on cognitive function and memory.

Brain games slow memory decline and reduce dementia risk

Dr Susan Mitchell, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This is a well-conducted study, which followed people over a long period of time, and adds to the substantial evidence that a healthy lifestyle can help to support memory and thinking skills as we age.

“Too few of us know that there are steps we can all take to reduce our chances of dementia in later life.” 

Overall, people with four to six healthy behaviours or two to three were almost 90% and almost 30% respectively less likely to develop dementia or mild cognitive impairment relative to those who were the least healthy.

I want to encourage you to include jigsaw puzzles into your healthy lifestyle choices; the more challenging the better. I recommend 1000-piece puzzles for a fun and enjoyable cognitive workout.

    Rest In Pieces does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

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