brain health

Tips to Prioritize Brain Health

An important part of healthy aging is supporting your brain function. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) affects more women in menopause than any other group of men or women. Like many diseases, with proper care and healthy habits, women can reduce their AD risk and delay the development of dementia. This week on Fox17, Dr.Bitner discusses the importance of brain health and how women can minimize their risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Fact #1

Estrogen protects the brain during its aging process. Estrogen helps maintain cognitive function and works to prevent the deterioration of the brain from Alzheimer’s Disease. During perimenopause the woman gradually loses estrogen, increasing their risk for AD and underscoring hormones’ pivotal role in brain health. 

Fact #2

Metabolic disease can increase your risk for AD. Metabolic disease leads to inflammation, damage to blood vessels, and plaque deposits. When plaque builds up, less blood flows to vital organs, including the brain, which can increase your risk for several diseases, including AD. It’s important to get blood and imaging testing to measure and predict your risk of heart attack, stroke, and AD. Knowing your risk can aid in early detection and empower you to implement habits that can change your future health. 

Fact #3

Risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) include: 

  • Being female
  • Low estrogen (perimenopause, menopause)
  • Metabolic disease: pre-diabetes, diabetes, high cholesterol, high inflammation
  • Central obesity
  • Poor quality sleep
  • Hereditary genetics

You are more likely to significantly reduce risk factors if you start brain-healthy practices sooner rather than later. 

Fact #4

Habits to promote brain health include: 

  • Eat a Mediterranean Diet, with olive oil, fatty fish, and lots of vegetables and fiber.
  • Walk at least 10,000 steps per day.
  • Know your measures of metabolic disease.
  • Get treated to reduce the important markers such as uric acid and blood sugar.
  • Take steps to lower belly fat and increase muscle mass. 
  • Get regular screenings.

Patient story:

Jane, 42, was in late perimenopause and was not prioritizing sleep or exercise. She also did not maintain a consistent healthy diet. Jane struggled as she watched her mom slowly develop memory issues and eventually had to live in a memory care facility. So, Jane scheduled an appointment to address her worry about developing dementia. 

Jane’s doctor was happy when she came in and shared with her, “What we do at midlife determines how we will be at 80.”  Her doctor ordered labs to review her metabolic health and understand her risk for AD better. Together, they worked to develop a plan to promote healthy brain function.

Jane learned the importance of sleep and began setting an alarm to remind her to go to bed on time. She also added olive oil and fatty fish like salmon to her diet and worked towards her goal of 10,000 steps per day.

Jane was happy to learn more about her risk for AD, have a plan in place, and know she was doing what she could to be healthy in the future. 

Takeaway Tip:

To age with a healthy and active brain, you must implement healthy habits now! By taking proactive steps and staying informed with regular health screenings, individuals can protect their cognitive function and enhance their overall well-being. 

Watch the full segment here.