Survey results show gaps in brain health knowledge

Results from a recent brain health survey in the U.S. by the Reader’s Digest in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association to survey 1,600 people in May 2015 about brain health and their knowledge of how lifestyle habits could affect cognitive decline and dementia.

The survey found that

  • 91% believed they can reduce the risk of cognitive decline, but had misconceptions about how to keep their brains healthy as they age.
  • 33% of people surveyed saw their brain as important from a health perspective.
  • 21 percent of people said the brain was an area of focus when making healthy lifestyle choices.
  • With nutrition, only 5% of people surveyed considered the brain when trying to eat healthily

A balanced diet higher in vegetables and fruit may help reduce risk of cognitive decline as we age.

  • Only 62 % realised smoking affects risks of cognitive decline.  Not only does it increase risks of cognitive decline, quitting can reduce risk to comparable levels to people who did not smoke.

Additionally, the survey found:

  • Just 59 percent of people recognised  that taking classes can help protect your brain from cognitive decline.

There is strong evidence linking more years of formal education with reduced risks of cognitive decline and dementia.

  • Up to 69 % respondents wrongly believed that you may reduce your risk of cognitive decline by eating one or two of the right “super foods.

Evidence suggests it is more about the total diet than eating or avoiding any single ingredient.

  • 60 percent of respondents wrongly believed that using the “right” puzzle, game or app,  can reduce their risk of cognitive decline.

There is no single “brain game” proven to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

  • Evidence shows that consistently engaging in activities that involve learning new skills and solving problems, or that stretch the mind strategically can potentially reduce risks of cognitive decline.

Why are there are so many misconceptions about how to keep our brains healthy?

Misconceptions may exist because people don’t focus on their brains when thinking  of their health. Typically they focused on areas like heart health. However, it is important for people to know that the same habits that are good for your overall health, including your heart health, are also good for your brain.

What are the key everyday lifestyle choices that can make a positive impact on brain health?

Evidence is mounting that you may reduce risks of cognitive decline as you age by making key lifestyle changes.

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