How to Promote Brain Health

Discover six ways you can promote brain health and reduce your risk of developing dementia.

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Lesson Outline

Dementia is a progressive brain disease that can have an adverse effect on your social activity and physical mobility.

By taking this interactive lesson, you'll learn how managing the following six factors can help to promote brain health and reduce your risk of developing dementia. 

  • physical activity and weight management
  • diet and nutrition
  • blood vessel health
  • smoking and alcohol use
  • brain and social activity
  • other health conditions and drug side effects.

Meet Joan and learn what changes she made to reduce her personal risk of developing dementia.

(Estimated time to complete - 30 minutes)

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Six Ways to Promote Brain Health

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What is Dementia?

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Weight Management, Diet, and Nutrition

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Anthony Levinson(SQUARE)_jpg

Anthony J. Levinson, MD, MSc, FRCPC

Neuropsychiatrist, Professor; Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University

Dr. Richard Sztramko

Richard Sztramko, MD, FRCPC

Consultant Geriatrician and Internist, Vancouver Coastal Health

About this project

The latest scientific evidence on this topic, including the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2019 Guideline for Risk Reduction of Cognitive Decline and Dementia, and the 2020 report of the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention, and care, was used to develop this resource. In the development of the WHO’s guidelines, AMSTAR was used to assess the quality of existing systematic reviews and the GRADE methodology was used to develop the evidence profiles.

The content of this lesson was reviewed and assessed for accuracy by our team of experts in geriatrics and mental health. There are no conflicts of interest. A panel of end-users reviewed the content and provided feedback on their user experience.  This resource was first published on February 19, 2023, and was adapted from the “How to Promote Brain Health” lesson on and the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal. It was last reviewed and updated August 22, 2023.

If you have questions or comments related to this resource please contact us at

References by Topic

The scientific references for each topic area are outlined below:

Physical Activity & Weight Management: References 1–6

Diet & Nutrition: References 6–10

Vitamins, Supplements & Anti-Oxidants: References 11,12

Coconut Oil: Reference 12

Blood Vessel Health: Reference 3

Smoking & Alcohol Use: References 6,13–18

Brain Activity: References 3,6,19–24

Social Activity: References 3,25–27

Health Conditions & Drug Side Effects: References 3,28–34


Government of Canada. Dementia in Canada, including Alzheimer’s disease. Published 2017. Updated September 21, 2017. Accessed February 17, 2023.

Livingston G, Huntley J, Sommerlad A, et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet Commissions. July 30, 2020. Accessed February 17, 2023.

National Institute on Aging. Cognitive health and older adults. Updated October 1, 2020. Accessed February 17, 2023.

National Institute of Aging. What do we know about healthy aging? Updated February 23, 2022. Accessed February 17, 2023.

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. Canadian 24-hour movement guidelines for adults aged 65 years and older: An integration of physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep. 24-Hour Movement Guidelines. 2021. Accessed February 17, 2023.


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  3. WHO. Risk Reduction of Cognitive Decline and Dementia: WHO Guidelines. 2019.
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