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A brain expert shares his 7 ‘hard rules’ for boosting memory and fighting off dementia

The average human brain shrinks by approximately 5% per decade after the age of 40. This can have a major impact on memory and focus.

What’s more, brain disorders are on the rise. In 2020, 54 million people worldwide had Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, and that number is expected to grow.

But serious mental decline doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of aging. In fact, certain lifestyle factors have a greater impact than your genes do on whether you’ll develop memory-related diseases.

As a neuroscience researcher, here are seven hard rules I live by to keep my brain sharp and fight off dementia.

1. Keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check

Your heart beats roughly 115,000 times a day, and with each beat, it sends about 20% of the oxygen in your body to your brain.

High blood pressure can weaken your heart muscle, and is one of the leading causes of strokes. Ideally, your blood pressure should be no higher than 120/80.

Cholesterol is critical to your brain and nervous system health, too. The American Heart Association recommends getting your cholesterol levels measured every four to six years.

2. Manage sugar levels

3. Get quality sleep

4. Eat a nutritious diet

5. Don’t smoke (and avoid secondhand and thirdhand smoke)

6. Make social connections

7. Continuously learn new skills

Harvard nutritionist: This is the No.  1 vitamin to keep your brain sharp

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