Longevity Lifestyle

How much control do you have over your cognitive health?

Johannes Kraus
5 min read

Cognitive health over time

In the natural course of life, the aging process inevitably impacts both our bodies and minds. While an array of fads and products promise eternal youth, the reality remains that aging is an inescapable part of the human experience. However, several strategies can help maintain optimal health for as long as possible.

Understanding Brain Health

Brain health encompasses several crucial facets, as highlighted by the National Institute on Aging:

  • Cognitive health governs thinking, learning, and memory abilities.
  • Motor function regulates bodily movements and balance.
  • Emotional function influences our responses to various emotions.
  • Tactile function dictates our sensitivity to touch sensations, such as pressure and temperature.

Although cognitive health typically dominates discussions about brain health, the interconnected nature of these domains implies that measures benefiting one aspect invariably support the others.

Insights into Cognitive Health and Aging

Normal cognitive aging typically manifests around the age of 45, as explained by Dr. Thomas Hammond, a distinguished neurologist at Baptist Health's Marcus Neuroscience Institute. Instances of minor memory lapses, like temporary difficulties recalling names, are normal at this stage and do not necessarily indicate cognitive decline. However, significant memory impairments, such as forgetting important conversations or appointments, can signal more concerning cognitive decline.

While genetic predispositions to certain conditions play a role in cognitive health, lifestyle choices significantly influence its trajectory. Dr. George Grossberg, a renowned geriatric psychiatrist at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, emphasizes the importance of maintaining an active and stimulating life coupled with a healthy lifestyle for preserving cognitive well-being.

Protective Measures for Cognitive Health

  1. Physical Activity: Regular exercise, encompassing a mix of moderate and vigorous activities, reduces the risk of cardiovascular issues and consequent cognitive decline. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week, in line with the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
  2. Mental and Social Engagement: Engaging in stimulating mental activities, such as reading, writing, or participating in social gatherings like book clubs, helps preserve cognitive functions and prevents cognitive decline with age.
  3. Stress Management: Chronic stress adversely affects memory and may increase the risk of dementia. Practicing relaxation techniques, mindfulness, and cultivating gratitude can mitigate the detrimental effects of stress on cognitive health.
  4. Nutritious Diet: Following a Mediterranean or DASH diet, rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, can significantly contribute to maintaining cognitive health. Limiting alcohol intake and adhering to recommended consumption guidelines is also advisable.


Prioritizing a holistic approach to health, encompassing physical, mental, and social well-being, can effectively preserve cognitive function as we age. By incorporating these measures into your lifestyle, you can not only protect your brain health but also enhance your overall well-being and quality of life.

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