6 Things You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
In the past, we have been told that there’s very little we can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Except hope and wait for the pharmaceutical industry and the invention of new drugs. But, the truth is that you can reduce the risks of this disease through proper nutrition, physical activity, mental and social activities, and by keeping stress under control. Frequent medical checkups and following a healthy lifestyle is something each of us can do for preserving the health!
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that affects middle-aged and elderly people, by destroying the neurons and connections in the cerebral cortex. It leads to significant loss of brain mass. Today, it is considered a major cause of senile dementia, which used to be considered a normal condition in old age. Alzheimer’s disease causes gradual and irreversible loss of memory, speech skills, awareness of time and space, and the people’s ability to take care of themselves. Today, late stage of Alzheimer’s disease is recognized as the most common cause of loss of the mental function in people around the age of 65. Early Alzheimer’s is a much rarer occurrence, affecting people in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Even though this disease is not part of the natural aging process, the risk of developing it increases with age.
Common Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is a disease that appears gradually. In the early stages, people have relatively small problems with learning new information and remembering where they left their belongings, such as the keys and wallet. Then, they begin to have problems in recounting previous events, or experience difficulties finding the exact words to express themselves. As the disease progresses, the person may have difficulty to remember what day or month it is, or to find a way through a familiar environment. This causes a tendency towards wandering off somewhere, and not being able to return.
People often become irritable and absent while struggling with the fear and frustration, when the formerly known places become foreign and unknown. The changes in behavior often make them paranoid and unable to participate in normal conversations.
Finally, the affected person becomes completely incapable of performing basic life functions, such as eating and using the toilet. People who suffer from this disease can live long, and usually die from other disorders, such as pneumonia. The time from diagnosis to death of the patient is from 7 to 10 years, but there are also variations from 3 to 20 years. This mostly depends on the age of the patient, its health status, as well as the care it receives.
Lifestyle Habits That Can Protect Your Brain
Researchers all over the world are racing to find the right cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Even though there’s no cure yet, we can do a lot to prevent the disease, or at least postpone the symptoms. It’s never too late to improve the work of the cells in your brain and to keep it healthy.
The health of the human brain, as well as the health of the body, depends on many factors. While a lot of these factors are beyond our influence, there are 6 very important pillars that contribute to improving the overall human health.
1. Regular Exercise
Physical activity reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 50 percent. Also, regular and well-planned exercise may further slow down the deterioration in those who already started to develop cognitive problems.
It’s recommendable to start exercising, and to adhere to the training plan. 30 minutes of light aerobic training, 5 times a week can bring you great improvements. This includes walking, swimming, cycling, or any other activity that will raise your heartbeat. Even the everyday routines, like cleaning, gardening, laundry and vacuuming can be considered a physical activity.
Anaerobic training, which builds muscles, can also trigger and stimulate your brain. Perhaps, a combination of aerobic and anaerobic activities is the best solutions for you and your health. For people over 65 years of age, 2 to 3 sessions a week will certainly affect the reduction of Alzheimer’s disease.
You can also try Yoga, Pilates, or classic stretching exercises. Just, be careful not to fall, as this increases the risk of a head injury, which can further increase the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Healthy Diet
Just like the rest of your body, the brain requires certain nutrients in order to function at its best. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. These good eating habits will protect you and prevent the occurrence of health problems:
- Mediterranean diet – eat a lot of fish, stone fruits, whole grains, olive oil, and other fresh seasonal ingredients. Occasionally, treat yourself with a glass of red wine and a piece of high quality dark chocolate, with 75 percent cocoa solids.
- Avoid trans and saturated fats – reduce the intake of these fats, by avoiding full-fat dairy products, red meat, fast food and processed foods.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – healthy fatty acids inhibit the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In your diet, include salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, etc.
- Eat 4-6 small meals a day – instead of 3 large meals, separate them into several smaller meals. Eating 4-6 small portions of food throughout the entire days will help you maintain proper blood sugar levels. Also, avoid refined carbohydrates, with lots of sugar and white flour, which cause rapid release of glucose and can damage the brain.
- Enjoy a cup of tea once or twice a day – regular consumption of green tea, once a day, can improve the memory, mental alertness and slow down the aging of the brain. Even though not as strong as tea, coffee can also benefit your brain. But, only in small quantities.
- Quit smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol – daily intake of large amounts of tobacco smoke and alcohol can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 80 percent.
- Vitamin and mineral supplements – enrich your diet with supplements like folic acid, vitamins B12, D and E, magnesium, fish oil, Ginkgo biloba, coenzyme Q10, and turmeric.
3. Mental Stimulation
Those who constantly learn new things and challenge the brain have less chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Activities that require solving tasks, communication, interaction and organization provide the greatest protection. Thus, we recommend you to challenge yourself with these activities every day, in order to stimulate the brain.
4. Good Quality Sleep
Just as your body, your brain needs regular, good quality sleep, in order to be able to function properly. Deprivation of sleep will not only leave you grouchy and tired, but it’ll also negatively affect the way you think and process everyday information. For your creativity and productivity not to suffer, you need at least 8 hours of sleep. Also, try to establish a regular sleep schedule.
5. Stress Management
Chronic stress can take a big toll on the brain. Stress affects the key memory area of the hypothalamus, hinders the growth of the nerve cells and increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Try to control your daily stress levels through proper breathing techniques, Yoga, soothing baths, and other daily activities for relaxation.
6. Active Social Life
In nature, people are very social. They cannot thrive in isolation. The same is applicable for the brain. Thus, active social life can help prevent and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.