An active lifestyle and a healthy, fish-rich diet are not only good for your heart, they may also help tackle the memory loss associated with old age, two leading neuroscientists said on Wednesday.
As people live longer, finding ways of halting the decline in mental agility is becoming increasingly important, said Professor Ian Robertson, director of the Institute of Neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin.
"The biggest threat to being able to function well and properly is our brains," he told journalists.
"There is very strong evidence, particularly in the over-50s, that the degree to which you maintain your mental faculties depends on a handful of quite simple environmental factors," he said.
Those who remained physically fit, avoided high stress levels and enjoyed a rich and varied social life are better equipped to stay alert as they age. Mental stimulation, learning new things and simply thinking young also help.
A new survey compiled for the University of Kent and the charity Age Concern showed ageism was rife in Britain where people, on average, see youth as ending at 49 and old age beginning at 65.
But Robertson said such attitudes were not helpful given the number of 80-year-olds who remain "sharp as pins."
"If you start to think of yourself as old when you are 60, which is no longer justified, you will behave old," he said.
Research conducted by his Trinity College colleague Professor Marina Lynch showed healthy eating was another key requirement for staying on the ball .