I want to emphasize one key point about brain function: 10 lifestyle steps work to prevent more than 70 percent – maybe 90 percent – of dementia. But so far with some exceptions like getting rid of toxins, mold or heavy metals, treatments have been disappointing at reversing the disease once it’s established. So start doing preventive stuff today.

Let me expand on what works and what doesn’t by describing three important articles recently reported about brain dysfunction. While two are very hopeful, the third would be discouraging, save it provides preventative action steps for those who do not yet have overt brain dysfunction. 

• Exercise after dementia only seems to change the course of disease in select Parkinson’s disease patients, but didn’t affect outcome once Alzheimer’s disease dementia is present, according to one large and well-done study. 

• More than 1,000 drug trials have been conducted in Alzheimer’s disease patients and there doesn’t seem to be any that result in major modifications in disease course. 

• The diet choices we wrote about the last several months have been confirmed in more studies to make a difference not only to memory and general brain function, but also in preserving hearing.

For those who do not have dementia or are worried their memory isn’t as good as it has been, know that new data further supports a few diet choices you can make. Go Mediterranean with a lot of vegetables and salmon or ocean trout. Use olive oil and enjoy walnuts and coffee, which make your brain better. 

Here are 8 steps that have solid scientific data that can prevent brain dysfunction:

• Learn to and do manage stress daily

• Do four components of physical activity

• Do speed of processing games

• Eat 10 ounces of salmon or ocean trout a week or 900 milligrams DHA a day

• Give sleep respect

• Avoid unforced errors, including toxins, and behaviors that might result in an unprotected brain and injury or concussion 

• Drink coffee, but no additives and enjoy nuts

• Enjoy an infrared sauna for 20 minutes four times each week  

Dr. Michael Roizen writes about wellness for the Cleveland Jewish News. He is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. 

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