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Montreal Families

App promotes habits to improve brain health in women

The Women’s Brain Health Initiative (WBHI) recently launched an important new wellness tool. Created to help users optimize their brain health, BrainFit is a free, habit-tracking mobile app that aims to help lower the risk of developing dementia and prolong cognitive vitality.

The app is designed to foster habits with an emphasis on the Six Pillars of Brain Health — exercise, nutrition, stress management, social activity, sleep, and mental stimulation.

With the app, users can get information about healthy lifestyle choices and how they can positively affect brain health. Those looking to improve their nutrition habits can learn about the MIND diet and its 15 dietary components that include brain-healthy foods and the unhealthy brain foods you might want to limit. Exercise prompts aim to encourage heart-healthy habits such as taking the stairs daily and weekly walking— both ways to improve blood flow to the brain and boost neurogenesis and neuroplasticity (the building of new brain cells and the forming/reorganization of connections between cells).

Through the app, users can also explore videos and podcasts such as the 25-minute Why Do More Women Get Alzheimer’s Disease, or read Over the Rainbow: The Importance of a Colourful Diet. By adding and tracking habits, BrainFit provides users with achievable goals and challenges, while offering helpful words of encouragement and support.

WBHI President and CEO Lynn Posluns said Women’s Brain Health Day on Dec. 2 was the ideal time to announce the launch of the app. “BrainFit is our newest initiative to educate the public on the best ways to protect their brain health,” said Posluns. “Users will learn about some of the best habits to help reduce their risk of brain-aging diseases like Alzheimer’s, which disproportionately affect women.”

Women’s Brain Health Day was officially recognized by the Government of Canada in 2019, and highlights the fact that serious brain health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, and depression, occur more frequently in women than in men. According to statistics released by WBHI in 2021, almost 70 percent of Alzheimer’s sufferers are women, four times as many women have multiple sclerosis as men, and more women die of stroke and have worse outcomes as they recover.

WBHI is working to balance the medical research that is unequally focused on men, and create awareness of why more women suffer from brain-aging disorders. WBHI is correcting the inequality by funding cutting-edge research that better meets the needs of women, as well as creating preventative health education programs, like BrainFit.

The app is part of a multi-media campaign set in motion at the beginning of 2022 by a $716,000 grant from the Public Health Agency of Canada and their Dementia Strategic Fund. The two-year campaign aims to transform the way Canadians think about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, promote healthy aging and prevention of brain diseases, and reduce the stigma surrounding dementia.

“There’s a myth that you can’t delay nor prevent brain-aging disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, when in fact you have more control than you may realize,” said Posluns at the start of the campaign. “What we do now to safeguard our brain health can avoid problems later in life.”

BrainFit – Free Habit Tracker is available for both iPhone and Android in the app store. The private and confidential app is completely free and there are no hidden costs. For more information on the BrainFit app: brainfit.org

Learn more about WBHI, its research programs and brain health at womensbrainhealth.org

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