Let’s start with а few quick facts about Alzheimer’s disease.
It is the most common cause of dementia and the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. More than 5.5 million Americans are living with this disease and by 2050 this number could rise as high as 16 million.
Last statistics give us information that 1 in 10 people age 65 and older has this disease. Every 66 seconds someone in US develops Alzheimer’s.
And now maybe you are thinking: “Oh I am still young to worry about this”. Yes, but one day we all will be 50 – 60 years old and we will have hopeful expectations of living at list 20 years more.
According to the previous statistics in the future one of three people will have Alzheimer’s disease. And if you have lucky you won’t be that one, but maybe it will be someone you love, someone close to you. That’s why it’s never too early to start thinking how to prevent Alzheimer’s or how to help others to prevent it.
How you can prevent Alzheimer’s?
What causes Alzheimer’s, it’s still a mystery, but researches suggests that while genetic factors are likely to play a role, some environmental factors also increase the risk. Some, like your age and genetics, are outside your control, but the good news is that you can do many things that are within your control, to lower your chance of getting Alzheimer’s and to reduce the risk.
Here are some of them:
1. Physical exercise
Studies have shown that women from age 40 to 60 who exercised regularly were seen to have a dramatic reduction in memory loss and cognitive decline. They kept their brain power at optimal strength!
More recent findings also suggest that an overall active lifestyle is the key to brain and body health. So, if you have been inactive, starting to exercise can be really hard for you. But a little exercise is always better than none.
First start with activities you enjoy, for example: a 10-15 minute walk every day. In a month your new routine will become a habit and your exercise routine will feel natural and normal activity.
Physical exercise has many mental health benefits. You can read more in our post: 7 mental health benefits of exercise
2. Mental exercise
Keep your brain active! Challenge your brain and learn new things every day. Make new cognitive connections and improve your memory. That will decrease your chances to develop Alzheimer’s.
Start to practice activities which involve more than one task or require communication, interaction and organization. For example, stimulate your brain with studying a foreign language, reading a new book, or finding a new hobby.
Also, you can improve your memory by practicing memorization. First try to memorize some simple and short things and then try to memorize something more complicated. Play strategy games, puzzles, board games, cards, word and number games. This kind of activities will provide you a great mental workout!
Good exercise for your brain can also be walking a new route to home or eating with your non-dominant hand. Changing some of your habits from time to time will create new brain pathways which is one of the most important things you can do to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s diseases.
You can find mental exercises in our post: 3 brain exercises to improve your memory
3. Eat healthy
Communication between brain cells is inhibited because the inflammation and insulin resistance injure neurons in Alzheimer’s disease. A common description of Alzheimer’s disease is “diabetes of the brain”. Growing number of research suggests that there is a strong link between the signal processing system and metabolic disorders. To reduce the risk of inflammation and protect your brain you can adjust your eating habits.
Here are few healthy eating tips:
Research suggests that the Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, seafood, olive oil, hearty grains and other foods, protect your brain and reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
So if you decide that you want to change your eating habits to a Mediterranean diet, here are few steps that will help you started:
– Never skip your breakfast. Eat fruit, whole grains and other fiber-rich food. Start your day in a healthy way!
– Eat a lots of vegetables!
– Two days during the week eat seafood such as tuna, salmon and sardines. They are rich with omega – 3 fatty acids which may help you to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by reducing beta-amyloid plaques in your brain.
– Use good fats – Extra-virgin oil, sunflower seeds, olives. They are healthy fats for your daily meals.
The real Mediterranean diet is more than just eating fresh and healthy food. It includes physical and social activity. So, keep your body active and make your mealtime a social experience. Eating or cooking with others will help you to relieve your brain from stress and boost your mood.
2. Avoid sugar.
Sugary foods can lead you to abnormally high blood sugar level, which is characteristic of diabetes and obesity. Studies have shown that people who have problems with diabetes have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Also, a specific molecular link between glucose and Alzheimer’s disease was unraveled by scientists, suggesting that people who consume a lot of sugar, but aren’t diabetic are also at increased risk. So, instead of eating ice cream or cake, eat fresh fruit salad!
3.Cook at home.
Try to cook at home more often. It will be easily for you to follow your diet if you are preparing your meals by yourself. You can eat fresh and meals with brain-healthy nutrients and low in sugar, salt and additives. Search on internet and find some interesting and delicious healthy recipes and have fun while you are cooking your breakfast, lunch or dinner. Here are Six healthy smoothies and shakes recipes that you can make at home.
2-4 cups of tea daily. Green tea, black tea, hibiscus, chamomile and other different flavors are full with many healthy goodies and components which may provide important mental health benefits. You can read more about the mental benefits of drinking tea in our post: 5 great mental benefits of drinking tea.
4. Sleep well
The problem with sleeping can be a possible risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Studies have found that people who get less REM – the 5th dream stage of sleep, may be at higher risk for developing dementia. Disturbed sleep leads to higher levels of beta-amyloid, the protein that folds and forms the sticky plaques that kill your brain cells and it makes processing information difficult.
On the other hand, quality sleep reducing our levels of beta amyloid, clearing the toxin from our brains effectively.
So, if you are struggling with insomnia and you have troubles with sleeping well, you may be at risk of developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Please contact your doctor and ask for help.
You can also read more interesting information about insomnia in our post: 7 things that you need to know about INSOMNIA.
5. Manage your stress
Chronic or persistent stress may increase the risk of dementia. There are many simple stress management tools and techniques that can minimize the harmful effects on your brain and memory.
Here are few of them:
• Deep abdominal breathing! It’s powerful, simple and free.
• Relaxation activities – put your relaxing time in your daily schedule. Go in a park for a walk, take a long warm shower, go out with your friends or read a good book. That will help you to recharge your batteries!
• Relax your muscles. Refresh your body by: stretching, taking hot shower or getting a good night’s sleep.
• Do things that makes you happy – Give yourself a break from work and do some activities that bring you joy and happiness.
• Laugh – even at yourself! Laughing will help your body and mind fight stress.
Other things you can do to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s:
– Don’t smoke! Studies have shown that people who smoke over the age of 65 have 80% higher risk of Alzheimer’s than those who have never smoked.
– Have control on your blood and cholesterol levels. There is a proven connection between them and the risk of this disease and vascular dementia. Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol level under control is good for your mental and physical health.
– Pay attention on your weight. Overweight it’s also a risk factor for Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia in the middle age of your life.
So, there is no proven way to prevent Alzheimer’s and there is no long-term medical treatment that has been shown to reduce symptoms. But if you think that you already have some symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
If you are still young and healthy, you can still follow and practice these things to reduce the risk of dementia and to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Make good changes in your lifestyles from now and keep your brain as fit as your body!