Here’s the surprising truth about brain health: there is a lot you can do.

If your brain was like a bicep, you may exercise it everyday, rewarded by the tone and definition you were developing with each passing workout. The central command center of the body, the brain is an organ that acts much like a muscle. You may not see the benefits to brain health, but scientists say that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put in the effort. In fact, there are many things you can do to make your brain healthier, and in some cases, postpone the onset of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Aside from adhering to a good Mediterranean-based diet, here’s what leading researchers around the world say you can do to improve brain health.

Step One – Get a cognitive assessment

Like stepping onto a scale to measure your starting weight, you’ll need to know where your starting point is when it comes to cognitive health. Different people have different capabilities when it comes to memory. What you need to know is what yours is before you encounter a problem. Assessing your cognition can be as simple as an online test, or may involve more thorough assessments that include MRIs or genetic and blood tests to identify your risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Pierre Tariot, director of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, explains why getting assessed early can help those diagnosed with dementia manage the disease.

Step Two – Consult a doctor to see if you should get a genetic test

Some doctors may tell you not to get a genetic test unless you have a specific reason to. Finding out your genetic status can often lead to more stress. However, knowing your genetic predisposition may in some cases help you assess your risk. Dr. Marwan Sabbagh, head of Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center, explains how genetics can help with diagnosis.

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Submitted by Pat France, MSRN Member