Alzheimer's - boost your brainpower

Of course, sometimes you can not remember where you put your keys. But that does not mean that your steel-trap mind is doomed to turn into a colander as you get older. "You can build up your brain, just like a muscle," says Stephen Kritchevsky, Ph.D, director of the Sticht Center on Aging at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. Researchers haven't yet found a way to prevent Alzheimer's disease, but they have uncovered plenty of defenses against the mental missteps we all experience.

Eat salad every day
People who consumed about three servings of vegetables daily had a 40 percent slower rate of cognitive decline over 6 years than those who shunned veggies, leaving the produce lovers the mental equals of someone 5 years younger. Green leafy vegetables seemed to have the strongest effect, perhaps because of their high vitamin E content, say researchers. Add vitamin E–rich spinach, almonds, or sunflower seeds to the mix for a smarter salad.

Test your hearing
Have your hearing tested every 3 years after age 50. Prevent further hearing loss by turning down the volume. If you have an MP3 player, make sure you set it no higher than 80 percent of the maximum, says Brian Fligor, ScD, director of diagnostic audiology at Children's Hospital Boston.

Give better attention
As you get older, you become less efficient at sifting through different types of sensory information — so much so that a distracting environment can interfere with memories forming in your brain. But a recent study suggested a fix: Participants were asked to pick out certain letters among a jumble of them while ignoring superfluous sounds. Those who first completed an attention-training course in noisy rooms had significantly higher scores.

Keep your BMI below 25
In memory tests, people with a healthy BMI of 20 recalled an average of 9 out of 16 words, while those with a BMI of 30 — the threshold for obesity — remembered just 7, found a study in Neurology. That difference sounds small, but researchers say it can be enough to have a noticeable impact.

Eating a fish
Eat two fish dishes weekly. If you're not a seafood fan, experiment with mild (and low-mercury) varieties such as tilapia, scallops, or shrimp.

Eat for lower blood pressure
Consume at least three servings of calcium-rich foods daily. Doing so slashes your risk of developing hypertension, research has found.

Check your blood sugar
Have your blood sugar checked once a year, take a 30-minute walk, Eat four to six small meals a day; this also keeps your blood sugar on an even keel.

Be like a boy scout
Spend 20 minutes a day tidying the house to nurture this trait.

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