Top 6 Ways to Help You Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
With so many living much longer lives, the potential for developing dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease increases. Here are some easy to follow steps you can take to help yourself or a loved one from developing these devastating age-related diseases.
- Exercise. Get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise. Based on a study by the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 50%. What’s more, exercise has also been shown to slow deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems by stimulating the brain’s ability to maintain old connections as well as make new ones. Two ideal activities for beginners are walking and swimming. Adding weight training to your regime 2-3 times a week can also cut your risk in half and help reduce the your risk from falls.
- Social Engagement. By nature, we are social creatures. Most people do not thrive in isolation and neither do our brains. Maintaining a healthy social calendar may even protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in later life. Some ideas for staying social are to volunteer, become active in your church, visit a local senior center, take a class at a local gym or community college, visit local museums and parks, or even go to the movies with a friend.
- Healthy Diet. Research has linked inflammation and insulin resistance to Alzheimer’s disease. It is thought that the connection between the neurons in the brain are disrupted by these issues. Some have even described Alzheimer’s as “diabetes of the brain”. A few recommendations suggested by Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. for cutting down your risk of developing Alzheimer’s are:
Cut down on sugar. Sugary foods and refined carbs such as white flour, white rice, and pasta can lead to dramatic spikes in blood sugar which inflame your brain. Watch out for hidden sugar in all kinds of packaged foods from cereals and bread to pasta sauce and low or no-fat products.
Enjoy a Mediterranean diet. Several epidemiological studies show that eating a Mediterranean diet dramatically reduces the risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. That means plenty of vegetables, beans, whole grains, fish and olive oil—and limited processed food.
Avoid trans fats. These fats can cause inflammation and produce free radicals—both of which are hard on the brain. Reduce your consumption by avoiding fast food, fried and packaged foods, and anything that contains “partially hydrogenated oils,” even if it claims to be trans fat-free.
Get plenty of omega-3 fats. Evidence suggests that the DHA found in these healthy fats may help prevent Alzheimer's disease and dementia by reducing beta-amyloid plaques. Food sources include cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, seaweed, and sardines. You can also supplement with fish oil.
Stock up on fruit and vegetables. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, the more the better. Eat up across the color spectrum to maximize protective antioxidants and vitamins, including green leafy vegetables, berries, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli.
Enjoy daily cups of tea. Regular consumption of great tea may enhance memory and mental alertness and slow brain aging. White and oolong teas are also particularly brain healthy. Drinking 2-4 cups daily has proven benefits. Although not as powerful as tea, coffee also confers brain benefits.
Cook at home often. By cooking at home, you can ensure that you're eating fresh, wholesome meals that are high in brain-healthy nutrients and low in sugar, salt, unhealthy fat, and additives.
- Mental Stimulation. People who continually challenge themselves and learn new things are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It really is a “use it or lose it” proposition. Some helpful tips are to learn something new, practice memorization, work on games, puzzles and riddles, practice using your non-dominant hand, and explore taking new route’s to places you commonly travel to (i.e., grocery store, a friend’s home, etc.).
- Sleep Quality. New research is showing that there is a correlation between poor sleep quality and Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown a link between poor sleep and higher levels of beta-amyloid (a sticky brain-clogging protein that in turn further interferes with sleep—especially with the deep sleep necessary for memory formation). Those who have routine sleep deprivation can have a slow-down in thinking and mood which lead to a greater risk of developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Most adults need at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
- Stress Management. Chronic or persistent stress can take a heavy toll on the brain, leading to shrinkage in a key memory area, hampering nerve cell growth, and increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Try to lower exposure to stressful situations to help preserve and protect your brain.
If you have a loved one that you would like to make sure is protected, try helping them implement the strategies above and make sure they have the right type of estate plan that will protect them should Alzheimer’s or dementia become reality. For more information on protecting an aging parent, contact Lisa Logee at (760) 448-2220 or [email protected] to get your FREE copy of “Protecting an Aging Parent from a Long Term Care Financial Crisis in California”.