Can a crossword puzzle a day keep dementia away?
If you can breeze through the Sunday puzzle, you’re not doing your mind any favors. That’s because the key to a vibrant, healthy brain includes challenge and novelty. One study from 1999 found that gaining more experience doing crossword puzzles didn’t offset the effects of aging when it came to mental tests of vocabulary and reasoning. According to SharpBrains, crossword puzzles can be stimulating, but after the first dozen or so puzzles, the activity doesn’t offer enough variety or difficulty to engage your whole brain.
Improve your memory: Keep your brain fit with new activities that test various skills. The Telegraph reports that people should concentrate on socializing and learning new skills, instead of doing crosswords, to ward off dementia. A financial analyst may want to grab a paintbrush and a canvas, for example. Even playing different types of puzzles—a crossword today, Sudoku tomorrow—is better than doing the same type over and over again. Be sure to try these brain exercises that help you get smarter.
Should I take supplements touted to “support brain health”?Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock
A 2010 report from the National Institutes of Health, which examined the results of multiple studies, found high levels of evidence that the herb Ginkgo biloba is not associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have found no reduction in cognitive decline from purported memory-enhancing vitamins and antioxidants such as B12, E, C, and beta-carotene.
Improve your memory: Your overall eating pattern, rather than popping specific supplements, appears to play an important role in how well your brain ages. Several studies have found the Mediterranean diet—rich in olive oil, fish, vegetables, and fruits; moderate in alcohol consumption; and low in saturated fats from meat and dairy—to be linked to a reduced risk of dementia (as well as heart disease). One important study from 2009 even found that healthy people who followed this way of eating for five years lowered their risk of developing an early form of dementia, and those who already had an early form of dementia helped lower the chances of their condition progressing. You may want to add these brain-boosting foods that can improve memory to your diet, too.