No matter your age the possibility of losing your memory can be scary.
But if you’re like a lot of folks, the more years you add to the calendar the more likely a minor brain burp is to send you into full-fledged panic.
Something like forgetting to put out the trash might just leave you feeling worried for days. But missing an important appointment could send you into a tailspin of worry that nearly has you rushing to see the doctor begging for a brain scan.
Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
But what if I were to tell you that you can adopt a hobby today that could help your brain function as if it’s 10 years younger? You’d probably want to know more about it, right?
Well researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School and Kings College London say you may be able to do just that.
And the best part is you’ll have a heck of a lot of fun while you’re doing it.
Put the brakes on brain aging with crosswords
There’s been a debate raging lately, with scientists bickering among themselves about whether or not so-called “brain games” can help us strengthen our memory or fight off brain aging.
Well that debate may finally be put to bed with the results of this exciting large-scale trial.
The research, which was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, crunched data gathered from over 17,000 healthy online volunteers who were 50 or older.
When data on how often volunteers played word puzzles such as crosswords, was bumped up against their performance on cognitive tests designed to measure brain function, a clear pattern emerged.
Folks who were word puzzle fans performed significantly better on tasks designed to evaluate reasoning, attention and memory.
Plus the more frequently they played the brain stimulating games the better they scored on the tests.1
Shave 10 years off your brain with word games
And we’re not talking about a small improvement in brain function here either.
According to the neuroscientists the folks who regularly completed word puzzles had essentially shaved 10 years off their brain age. They flew through tests on grammatical reasoning, and short term memory accuracy, like someone whose brain was a decade younger.
According to Dr. Doug Brown, Director of Research of the Alzheimer’s Society, “keeping an active mind can help to reduce decline in thinking skills.”
And while Dr. Brown isn’t quite ready to say making word puzzles your new hobby will knock 10 years off your brain age, he says this new research has revealed a clear link between the brain-stretching games and memory and reasoning.
Besides adopting a word puzzles hobby, you can help protect your brain by giving up smoking and staying physically active. And be sure to eat a healthy diet with lots of brain-friendly foods.
For example coffee fans who drink three to five cups a day could slash their risk of Alzheimer’s by 65 percent. If you’ve already started to slip, that same java can significantly slow down cognitive decline according to researchers.2,3 And experts say eating more wild caught fish, berries and spinach could support a healthy brain, and fight off memory loss.4,5,6,7,8,9
There’s no better time than today to start putting the brakes on brain aging. Make crosswords, and other fun word puzzles, a part of your daily routine, and you could end up with a sharper brain.
1. “Daily crosswords linked to sharper brain in later life,” University of Exeter Medical School, “The Relationship Between the Frequency of Word Puzzle Use and Cognitive Function in a Large Sample of Adults Aged 50 to 96 Years,” presented at AAIC on Monday, July 17, 2017: 9:30AM – 4:15PM
2. “Midlife coffee and tea drinking and the risk of late-life dementia: a population-based CAIDE study,” J Alzheimers Dis. 2009;16(1):85-91, Accessed: 7/18/2017
3. “High Blood Caffeine Levels in MCI Linked to Lack of Progression to Dementia,” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 30 (2012) 559–572, Accessed: 7/18/2017
4. “Association of Vitamin B12, Folate, and Sulfur Amino Acids With Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging Measures in Older Adults A Longitudinal Population-Based Study,” JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(6):606-613, Accessed: 7/18/2017
5. “Long-chain omega-3 fatty acid intake is associated positively with corticolimbic gray matter volume in healthy adults,” Neurosci Lett. 2007 Jun 29;421(3):209-12, Accessed: 7/18/2017
6. “DHA supplementation improved both memory and reaction time in healthy young adults: a randomized controlled trial,” Am J Clin Nutr, March 20, 2013, Accessed: 7/18/2017
7. “Eating berries may activate the brain’s natural housekeeper for healthy aging,” 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Presented August 23, 2010, acs.org, Accessed: 7/18/2017
8. “Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline,” Ann Neurol. 2012 Jul;72(1):135-43., Accessed: 7/18/2017
9. “Protective effects of berry polyphenols against age-related cognitive impairment,” Journal: Nutrition and Aging, vol. 3, no. 2-4, pp. 89-106, 2015, Accessed: 7/18/2017
10. “A possible role for lutein and zeaxanthin in cognitive function in the elderly,” Am J Clin Nutr November 2012, vol. 96 no. 5 1161S-1165S, Accessed: 7/18/2017
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