What's good for the heart must be good for the brain.
That's the philosophy behind Healthy Brain Program, a program aimed at preventing brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and generally keeping people sound of mind for as long as possible.
How to keep your brain healthy
Dr. Stephen Kiraly, a geriatric psychiatrist and clinical assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, was convinced that the same lifestyle habits that keep the heart healthy (regular exercise, good nutrition and stress management) also keep the brain healthy. "After all, the brain is an organ, just like the heart," he says.
Reviewing scientific literature, Kiraly discovered there are several factors involved in brain health. For example, he found that:
• minor head traumas or concussions leave individuals at greater risk for dementia later in life;
• nutritional deficiencies may cause psychiatric symptoms;
• lack of sleep affects learning;
• excess stress hormones can cause some brain cells to die;
• mental and physical exercise produce natural brain-boosting chemicals and increase the growth of specific brain regions;
• hormone therapies can be beneficial - as well as risky - to the brain; and
• patients diagnosed with depression, hypertension, obesity or diabetes are more likely to develop dementia (memory loss and loss of thinking ability) than patients who have not been diagnosed with these conditions.
Through a series of workshops, the Healthy Brain Program teaches participants to take ownership of their brain health by analysing and discussing lifestyle habits that affect the brain. The program is targeted at patients of all ages, as well as health-care professionals and educators. Visit healthybrain.org for more information.
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