S.H.I.E.L.D Lifestyle Interventions for Brain Health
Want a simple way to remember how to take care of your brain today and reduce the risk of brain disease in the future? The SHIELD Plan is a great acronym to help! SHIELD was developed by Dr. Rudolph Tanzi at McCance Center for Brain Health.1 By focusing on these simple strategies, you’ll be giving your brain the support it needs to stay sharp and function optimally.
Whether you're looking to boost your cognitive function, protect against age-related decline, or just feel your best mentally, this acronym can help you stay on track.
Sleep - Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Sleep is essential for proper memory formation and waste removal from the brain. Sleep plays many roles in brain health from learning and memories to maintaining concentration and supporting communication between neurons. In addition to getting adequate hours of sleep, having high quality sleep is also necessary.
Handling stress – Stress is something that everyone faces in life on a regular basis, but the way that you manage it has significant consequences for your health. Chronic stress has effects on many systems in the body, including the brain. Chronic stress can impair memory function, increase risk for mental illness, and even change the structure of the brain. Reduce levels of stress when you can, with meditation and managing expectations.
Interaction with friends - Ultimately, the brain is meant to help us survive and thrive in the context of relationships with the people around us. By connecting with others, we are challenged to remember, observe, and listen, which all strengthen our brain health. Staying connected to others is associated with many benefits, from improved mental health to better physical health, and even lower risk of chronic diseases. These activities also add purpose to our lives.
Exercise - Endurance and resistance exercises cause the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and metabolites that stimulate neuroplasticity (the creation, adaptation and survival of brain cells and their connections). Exercise reduces inflammation and improves blood flow to the brain. The key is finding an exercise you enjoy!
Learn new things - Cognitive stimulation strengthens and increases the number of synapses in the brain, which are critical to preserving our brain’s ability to adapt to challenges and delay the onset of symptoms of neurodegenerative conditions. People build cognitive reserve through learning, curiosity, and intellectual pursuits.
Diet - Diet is a powerful factor affecting brain health. Dr. Tanzi recommends following the Mediterranean (MeDi) and MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diets as excellent ways to eat to protect and strengthen your brain. The MIND diet encourages the consumption of certain foods and the avoidance of others to help prevent or delay cognitive decline.
A healthy diet is a foundation for a healthy brain, but sometimes we miss the mark on eating all these brain food nutrients consistently. RELEVATE is the first and ONLY nutritional supplement based on the Mediterranean and MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) dietary patterns, shown to be the most brain-protective. We formulated RELEVATE to fill these nutrient gaps and give you nutritional insurance, even when your diet falls short.
Combining the above 5 strategies is the key to success! By focusing on these lifestyle factors, you can support your brain health and live your best life today and for years to come.
This acronym was developed by Dr. Rudolph Tanzi at the McCance Center. The McCance Center for Brain Health focuses on treating brain diseases through preventative measures with cutting edge research and latest advancements. To learn more about SHIELD and Dr. Tanzi, visit here.
1. Tanzi. “Lifestyle Interventions for Brain Health: Dr. Tanzi's ‘Shield’ Plan.” Massachusetts General Hospital, https://www.massgeneral.org/neurology/mccance-center/clinic/shield?inf_contact_key=34fde50ee90ffc08c2cac0563bfb7185c61f0136bd9e1f6d9cd3b34032effcc6.