Games to Prevent Alzheimer’s Diseaseby Karen Vieira, MBA, PhD | December 16, 2007
There are many games for computers and gaming systems claiming to help keep your brain young. Is that all hype? There are several ways to keep the brain healthy and active, and these games use a few already known concepts.
The saying “use it or lose it” is especially true when it comes to the human brain. We need daily stimuli, like puzzles to keep our brains exercised. Artistic activities that challenge you like drawing and painting can give your brain the stimulation and exercise needed for long term healthy function. These concepts are all utilized in most of the new brain games, and therefore the games are not all hype, but are proposed to help fight off Alzheimer’s and dementia. Though some scientists think that these games are premature and that the science doesn’t yet conclusively prove their benefit.
So maybe puzzles and artistic challenges alone enough to keep your brain young. An active brain is not necessarily a healthy one. There are several other things you can do to ensure you really keep your brain healthy. As you work to keep your body healthy through exercise and nutrition you are also feeding your brain. Research has shown that exercise develops new blood vessels in the brain that carry more oxygen-rich blood to the areas of the brain responsible for thinking. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle gives you the benefit of avoiding some of the other medical problems and habits that increase the chances of dementia in old age.
When planning your nutrition, remember your brain needs B vitamins. Leafy green vegetables and whole grains give you the folic acid, B12 and B6 necessary for the healthy function of your brain. Keeping your blood pressure healthy and your cholesterol low impacts your brain and is a natural byproduct of a healthy nutritional plan and exercise regimen. Avoiding the use of tobacco and abuse of alcohol lowers the chance that you will experience dementia, while moderate alcohol use can actually improve the health of the brain. There have been many scientific studies that offer preliminary proof that low doses of alcohol have been linked to a reduction in the risk of dementia.
The best options to reduce the chances of suffering dementia in old age are living a healthy well-rounded lifestyle, rather than just relying on a game to do it all. Combining the power of nutrition, exercise and mental stimulation, whether from a game or from other activities, give our bodies and brains the opportunity to function at their full capacity well into our twilight years.
Exercising to keep aging at bay. Nature Neuroscience. 2007 Mar;10(3):263.
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