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The best ways to preserve brain health

Be aerobic.

“Aerobic exercise is the most impactful way to protect your brain and stave off aging and Alzheimer's. Exercise builds up the hippocampus, which is critical for long-term memory and is also where the plaques and tangles of Alzheimer’s start. Exercise strengthens the hippocampus so it takes longer for those plaques and tangles to build up.”

-Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience and psychology at the New York University Center for Neural Science

Eat less Western. 

“Breakthrough studies have shown that your risk of depression and the size of your hippocampus are correlated with what you eat. Folks who eat a Western diet [which contains lots of added sugars and fats] have smaller brains as they age. Eating more plants, wild fish, fatty fish, nuts, and beans is linked with having a bigger hippocampus.”

-Drew Ramsey, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and founder of New York City-based Brain Food Clinic

When in bed, sleep.

“Sleep apnea and other sleep-related challenges increase your risk of cognitive problems, Alzheimer’s, and dementia later in life. When you’re sleeping, your body clears the brain of the proteins that accumulate and the plaques of Alzheimer’s disease. Looking at your iPad or phone—even reading a book—in bed trains you to be awake in bed. You want to train yourself to be asleep in bed.”

-Grill

Know your numbers.

“Just by lowering your blood pressure from the 140s over 80s to the 120s over 70s can reduce the risk of early Alzheimer's by nineteen percent. Talk to your doctor, get informed, and you can make an impact on your brain health tomorrow.”

-Isaacson

These interviews have been edited and condensed for publication.