Easy Ways to Build Better Brain Health

Experts agree: healthy lifestyle habits really can lower your risk of developing dementia.

At White Oaks of McHenry, a dedicated memory care facility in McHenry, a mixture of endurance, resistance and strength exercises has been known to increase brain power among residents, says Stephen Harris, vice president of clinical services and compliance at Gardant Management Solutions, which owns White Oaks of McHenry.

Here are a few to try at home:
Chair Stands: Place pillows against the back of a chair and sit in the middle with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.

Lean back on the pillows in a half-reclining position. Your back and shoulders should be kept straight.

Using your hands as little as possible, raise your upper body forward until sitting upright. Your back should no longer lean against the pillows. Slowly stand up, trying not to use your hands. Slowly sit back down, keeping your back and shoulders straight through the process.

Repeat 8 to 15 times; rest and repeat 8 to 15 times more.

Endurance Exercises: Try walking briskly with no incline, doing it about 15 to 30 minutes three to four times a week.

Swimming is great for joints, as it provides a free-flow, low-impact environment for exercising.

Gardening is an alternative, because it involves lots of movement.

MIND Diet: Developed at Rush University in Chicago, this food plan is mitigating the advancement of Alzheimer’s disease, Harris says.

The diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet – high in fish, healthy fats, vegetables and whole grains – and the DASH diet, which is heavy in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy.

The MIND diet emphasizes green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine. It eliminates red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

A typical day on the MIND diet might include three servings of whole grains, a salad plus one other vegetable, a glass of wine, nuts as a snack, blueberries or strawberries, chicken or fish, and beans (every other day). ❚

White Oaks of McHenry is located at 4605 W. Crystal Lake Road, McHenry, (815) 344-2970.