The Alzheimer’s Prevention lifestyle includes:
While no hard and fast rules exist for Alzheimers prevention, more and more research shows that you can age gracefully. Alzheimers is a hereditary and genetic disease, which traditionally has meant that if you had a family history of elderly dementia; it is quite likely that you would meet the same fate. However, the latest scientific research seems to show that keeping your brain active and maintaining a healthy body can improve the link between mind and muscle, which in turn can stave off the symptoms of Alzheimers.
Before any discussion can be had about choices to help promote brain fitness and Alzheimers prevention, it must be made clear that the list may help to keep Alzheimers at bay but currently no cure exists for this disease. Scientists believe, however, that elderly people have five key choices to make to promote aging gracefully:
- Physical exercise
- Mental exercise
- Stress management
To understand what choices exist in these areas and their impact on Alzheimers prevention, you need to know how they impact on your mental health.
Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease have long been associated. Pound for pound, the human brain needs more calories to function than any other organ in your body. The number of sub-conscious brain processes that run even during sleep can leave you feeling hungry in the morning. Providing your brain with enough calories and the right vitamins and minerals will help keep you mentally healthy for a longer time. In particular, you should aim to include these foods in your diet:
- Omega-3 – This promotes synapse health and is in most oily fish like salmon and tuna as well as most forms of margarine and butter.
- Fruit with red or purple flesh – The colors come from different antioxidants present in the fruit, which help to break down unwanted chemicals in your blood stream. Antioxidants are also present in red wine and dark chocolate.
- Whole meal products – Food high in white processed flour can cause your blood sugar levels to spike, which puts a massive strain on your brain when the excess glucose reaches your head. Whole meal products release their energy much more slowly.
One of the key symptoms of Alzheimers disease is the degradation of the link between the body and the mind. Many elderly people become more sedentary as their body stops working and it becomes more painful to move, but even gentle exercise can help Alzheimers prevention.
Before you reach old age, you can improve your chances of avoiding mental health problems with a regular fitness regime. Then when you do start to have limited mobility, a gentle walk, gardening or even chair-based exercises will help to keep the link strong between your mind and your muscles.
Your brain is effectively a big muscle. In the same way that a lack of physical exercise will lead to your muscles atrophying, choosing not to engage yourself mentally will lead to your brain becoming weaker.
Studies have shown that older people who do a daily crossword, learn a new language, or keep a diary of their day-to-day activities stay mentally healthy for longer. If you have the Internet in your home, you could choose to take an online learning course or take part in forum discussion on your favorite subjects.
Humans have a need for contact with other people and this stays strong all the way through your life. Each time you talk to someone, your brain goes into overdrive trying to decode his or her words, as well as the non-verbal communication and subtext.
Even just meeting a friend for coffee is beneficial in Alzheimers prevention, while becoming part of a group that meets regularly can also count as mental exercise. Talking to someone on the phone or over the Internet is a good substitute but try to meet face to face as much as possible.
When you are stressed out, you put a lot of pressure on your brain, in particular the hippocampus, which is your brain’s long-term memory store. Too much cortisol, which is the chemical produced when you are stressed, erodes the hippocampus, so leading a stress free lifestyle is key for Alzheimers prevention. This incorporates taking your time to enjoy your food, doing some exercise, giving yourself some mental stimulation and meeting up with friends and family regularly.
If you cannot avoid stress through your job or family, try to give yourself some relaxation time each day with quiet music, low lighting and a time to reflect on your stresses and how to relieve them. You may not be able to find an absolute solution but you may be able to think of ways to pass the stress to someone else.
Making these lifestyle choices will certainly help Alzheimers prevention for most people but you should still monitor yourself for any symptoms and alert your doctor as soon as possible if you think that something is wrong. Modern drugs can be effective at slowing down Alzheimers but only if it is caught early.