This World Alzheimer’s Month we have already looked at the risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease. We know there is no single cure for the neurodegenerative condition, but what can you do to help lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia?
For years Alzheimer’s disease has been seen as an unavoidable element of aging; the older you are, the more likely you are to develop the condition, and there is nothing you can do about it. This is not strictly true. Of course, there are some risk factors that you can’t change, such as age, genetics and plain old luck. However, there are measures you can take that can help you to reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s and even slow down the progression of the disease.
You can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by eating well, quitting smoking, staying a healthy weight, and exercising your body AND your brain. Basically, you need to keep your body and brain in great shape. This will not only help to protect you from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, but will protect you from other diseases and conditions to, from arthritis to heart conditions to cancer.
Exercise Your Body
According to the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, regular exercise could reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50%. It has also been shown that regular exercise can slow further deterioration of brain function after the onset of the disease.
Take it slowly, gradually increasing the intensity of exercise as you go. Aim to exercise for 30 minutes 5 times a week. If you haven’t done any exercise for a while (or ever!) start small, with regular walks. As your fitness improves you can walker faster, further, and for longer periods of time.
A good diet feeds your body and your brain.
Eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein and good fats, you can help to maintain good brain function.
Regularly include food such as nuts, olive oil and oily fish in your diet to keep your omega-3 fatty acid intake high (these are shown to help protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia).
Avoid trans fats and saturated fats found in full fat dairy products, red meat, processed, packaged and fried food.
Eat a rainbow. By eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables you can make sure that your vitamin and antioxidant intake is high, protecting your brain as well as the rest of your body from disease.
Go Green. Green Tea, when consumed regularly, is shown to slow down brain aging and increase mental alertness. Try to swap your regular hot drink for green tea. Drink 2-4 cups a day for the best benefit.
Vascular disease is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Smoking is known to cause vascular disease. Smoking increases Alzheimer’s risk for a person aged over 65 by 79%. In addition, those who smoke and drink heavily are shown to develop Alzheimer’s 7 years earlier than non-smokers who drink in moderation.
Whilst changes in the brain caused by alcohol abuse can only be reversed in their earliest stages, the moment you quit smoking the circulation in your brain improves, instantly reducing the risk for further damage. So cut smoking to cut your Alzheimer’s risk.
Exercise Your Brain
Regardless of your age and health, your brain needs activity. There are numerous studies that show the more sociable we are, the better our memory and understanding are. Staying sociable could even help protect you against Alzheimer’s disease, as it keeps your brain active, exercising the neurons that form the networks that make your brain work. As we get older, we often become less sociable. But volunteering, joining a social club, making regular dates to meet friends, families and neighbors can all help to keep you happy, and your brain healthy.
We can’t prevent aging, and nor can we absolutely prevent disease. However, by doing our best to eliminate the risk factors of disease, to stay healthy and active, we can reduce our risk of developing conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes and heart conditions.
At Angeles Health we are committed to giving our patients the very best levels of care. If you would like to find out more about Angeles Health and the facilities, such as Stem Cell Therapy, that we offer to help people with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions, get in touch.