Have you ever walked into your kitchen and forgotten what you needed? Or maybe you’re struggling to think of the perfect punchline to the joke you’re telling a friend. These brain short-circuits may make you wonder whether they’re normal or if you should be concerned. That’s why you should avoid Alzheimer disease.
The most feared disease in the world is Alzheimer’s, which has been linked to an overabundance of two proteins that kill brain cells. Imagining this plays upon your worst fears: losing long-term and short-term memories, being disoriented, and not being able to recognize family members.
Please note that not all cognitive failures should be taken seriously. Only 1% of Alzheimer’s cases have a genetic component, even though it may be the most prevalent dementia disease. Therefore, there are steps you can take to lower your risk and avoid Alzheimer disease.
Nurse practitioner Diane Parks, founding director of The Well for Health, focuses on one-on-one education as part of her care. Here we discuss how you can prevent dementia, and therefore Alzheimer’s, by adopting a range of preventive strategies.
Read: Short-Term Memory Loss
Is Alzheimer’s disease preventable or slowable?
One of the most important concerns we have as we age is Alzheimer’s disease. When you see a loved one suffer from dementia, the prospect of developing the disease can be frightening. It may seem as though you have no choice but to hope and wait for a pharmaceutical cure, but there is actually much more encouraging news.
Researchers have found ways to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias, or slowing the deterioration after a diagnosis, to reduce the risk of developing these conditions.
It is possible to maximize your chances of cognitive health and preserve your cognitive ability for longer by identifying and controlling your personal risk factors and implementing simple yet effective lifestyle changes.
There are many risk factors that contribute to Alzheimer’s. Some are beyond your control, including age and genetics. It is still possible to lead a brain-healthy lifestyle if you adhere to a few pillars to avoid Alzheimer disease.
- Regular exercise
- Social engagement
- Healthy diet
- Mental stimulation
- Quality sleep
- Stress management
- Vascular health
According to experts, Alzheimer’s does not always affect the elderly and can actually start in the brain years before symptoms are evident, often in middle age. So it’s never too early for you to start protecting your brain.
Keeping your brain healthy by strengthening each of the seven pillars is the key to a long life and a healthy brain. Furthermore, you will have reduced your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, or you may be able to delay the onset of more severe symptoms.
Read: How to Stop Worrying
1. Regular exercise
Regular physical activity can help decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent, according to the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation. Further, exercise can also slow the progression of cognitive decline in those who have already begun to feel the effects. Exercise is beneficial for preventing Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia by enhancing the brain’s ability to maintain old and make new connections.
You should exercise at least 150 minutes per week at a moderate intensity. Strength and cardio training are ideal combinations. You can walk or swim when you are starting out.
Gain muscle to keep your brain active. Resistance training and weightlifting help you increase muscle mass and keep your brain healthy. You may be able to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by half by scheduling 2-3 strength sessions per week for those over 65.
Combine strength and balance training. Fall-related head injuries become more common as you age, which increases your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. You can stay flexible and avoid spills by doing balance and coordination exercises, in addition to wearing a sports helmet when you exercise (for example, when you cycle). Exercises that use balance balls can help you stay flexible and avoid accidents.
Read: What is Hypnosis
How to start and maintain an exercise program
It can be daunting to begin an exercise program if you’ve been inactive for some time. However, every little bit helps. You can benefit greatly from adding exercise to your weekly routine, even if you do only modest amounts.
You can begin small and gradually build your momentum and confidence by joining activities you enjoy. You can try a 10-minute walk a few times a day to avoid Alzheimer disease.
2. Social engagement
Our social nature makes us highly social creatures. Both our minds and bodies thrive in social environments. Maintaining strong social connections may even prevent the onset of symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As such, make it a priority to build and maintain your social circle.
If you want to feel heard and cared for, you need regular contact face-to-face with someone who cares about you. The fact is that, as we age, we become more isolated but that is not a reason to stop meeting new people and forming new relationships:
- Take part in clubs or social gatherings
- Go to a senior center or community center
- Sign up for community college classes or gym classes
- Engage in community activities
- Schedule weekly dates with friends
- Go to public places (parks, museums, etc.)
Read: Split-Brain Syndrome
3. Healthy diet
Insulin resistance and inflammation cause damage to neurons in Alzheimer’s disease. There is mounting evidence that metabolic disorders and signal processing disorders are related to Alzheimer’s disease, sometimes called “diabetes of the brain.” However, you can reduce inflammation by altering your diet and safeguard your brain.
Manage your weight. The number of pounds you weigh may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. A major study discovered that people who were overweight in midlife had twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s in their later years, and those who were obese had three times the risk. You can protect your brain by losing weight.
Eat less sugar. Simple sugars and refined carbohydrates like white flour, white rice, and pasta can increase your blood sugar level, leading to inflammation in your brain. Watch out for hidden sugars in a variety of packaged foods, including cereals, breads, sauces, and products with low or no fat.
Follow a Mediterranean diet. Numerous epidemiological studies demonstrate that the Mediterranean diet dramatically reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as well as cognitive impairment. The easiest way to achieve this is by eating plenty of fresh vegetables, beans, whole grains, fish and olive oil.
Consume plenty of omega-3 fats. These healthy fats may reduce beta-amyloid plaques and therefore prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. They eat fish and seaweed, as well as fish and tuna from cold water. Additionally, fish oil supplements are available.
Eat fruits and vegetables. Eat as much as possible. To maximize your intake of protective antioxidants and vitamins, eat a variety of colorful vegetables, such as green leafy vegetables, berries, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli.
Cook at home frequently. Making your own meals at home allows you to ensure you are eating nourishing meals that are low in sugar, salt, unhealthy fat, and additives while still providing you with the nutrients you need.
Drink moderately. While moderate red wine consumption is thought to have brain benefits, heavy alcohol consumption has been shown to dramatically increase Alzheimer’s risk.
Read: False Memory Disorder
4. Mental stimulation
It’s important to challenge your brain throughout life and to continue learning new things. There are many important factors to consider when preventing dementia or delaying its progression, including “use it or lose it.” The groundbreaking NIH ACTIVE study found that older adults who underwent mental training improved their cognitive functioning in daily activities in the months following the training, and that these improvements lasted long after the training.
It is best to engage in activities that involve multiple tasks or require complex communication, interaction and organization. Schedule some time each day for your brain to be stimulated:
Do something new. You can also learn to play an instrument, paint, or sew or study a foreign language. Taking a class and scheduling regular practice sessions is one of the best ways to start a new hobby. Taking on a challenge, complexity, and novelty will make it more enjoyable.
Improve an existing activity. Increasing your knowledge and skills of something you already do will still challenge your brain even if you don’t like to learn something new. Playing the piano is a great way to learn a new piece of music or improve the playing of your favorite piece.
Learn how to memorize. If you want to memorize the treble clef notes, E, G, B, D, and F, make up a sentence in which each word represents the beginning of what you want to remember. Studies and patterns help you remember things better.
Enjoy playing strategy games, solving puzzles, and solving riddles. You can train your brain to form and retain cognitive associations by playing brain teasers and strategy games. Take part in crossword puzzles, game board games, card games, or word and numbers games such as Scrabble or Sudoku.
Take a different route. Consider taking a different route or eating with your non-dominant hand. Create new neural pathways by changing your habits regularly.
5. Quality sleep
Poor sleep patterns are associated with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Quality sleep may help flush out the brain of toxins. According to others, poor sleep is related to higher levels of beta-amyloid in the brain, an incredibly sticky protein that disrupts sleep and can lead to memory loss.
When sleep deprivation affects your thinking and mood, you are more likely to develop or deteriorate Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. Tips for improving sleep to avoid Alzheimer disease:
Schedule your sleep time. Your natural circadian rhythms are strengthened by going to bed and waking up at the same time. Regularity helps your brain’s clockwork right.
Make you feel good. Do not use your bed for anything but sleep and sex, and keep computers and televisions out of the bedroom (both are stimulating and can affect your sleep).
Create a relaxing bedtime ritual. Consider taking a hot bath, stretching, listening to relaxing music, or dimming the lights. After a few weeks of consistent practice, your nightly ritual will act as a powerful signal to your brain that sleep is calling.
Get screened for sleep apnea. Getting tested for sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous condition that occurs when your breathing is interrupted while you sleep, might be the best course of action if people complain about your snoring. Sleep and health can be greatly improved with treatment.
6. Stress management
Stress can cause the brain to shrink in a key memory region, inhibit nerve cell growth, and increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. You can use these simple tools to avoid Alzheimer disease.
Breathe! Deep breathing can help you calm your stress response. It’s easy, effective, and it’s free!
Plan daily relaxation activities. It takes regular effort to manage stress. Yoga, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation are some relaxation techniques you can learn to reduce stress and reverse its damaging effects.
Nourish inner peace. You may be able to immunize yourself against the negative effects of stress by practicing regular meditation, prayer and reflection.
Make fun a priority. Stress levels and brain health cannot be improved by working all the time. Whether you want to watch the stars, play the piano, or work on your bike, take time for the leisure activities that bring you joy.
Try to remain positive. It’s okay to laugh at yourself sometimes. The laughter helps your body cope with stress and avoid Alzheimer disease.
7. Vascular health
Research is increasingly suggesting that what’s good for your heart benefits your brain as well. Heart health is important for lowering your risk of various types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. You can also reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes by addressing heart-health concerns.
Control your blood pressure
Dementia is strongly associated with high blood pressure or hypertension. The brain’s parts responsible for cognition and memory can be damaged by high blood pressure. A reading of 130/80 mm Hg or higher is considered to be high blood pressure by the American Heart Association guidelines.
Monitor your blood pressure regularly at home. The Netherlands found that a significant increase in dementia risk was associated with large fluctuations in blood pressure over years. Keeping track of your blood pressure throughout the day and noticing any variations is possible with inexpensive monitors attached to your arm. Your phone may even receive the results of some devices, letting you track your results or share them with your doctor.
Change your diet and lifestyle. Your blood pressure can be lowered by exercising, losing weight, reducing stress, and consuming less salt, caffeine and alcohol. Reduce your intake of takeout food, canned food, and processed food, which tend to contain high levels of sodium, in favor of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Ask your doctor for recommended medications. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that those prescribed antihypertensive medications to lower their blood pressure were about one-third less likely to develop dementia.
Check your blood pressure regularly. Even though low blood pressure affects far fewer people, it can also reduce brain blood flow. A low blood pressure measurement is not provided by the American Heart Association, but symptoms such as dizziness, blurred vision, and unsteadiness when standing could indicate such a condition.
Other vascular health tips to avoid Alzheimer disease
Maintain a healthy cholesterol level. Additionally, there is evidence that high cholesterol levels are related to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, especially after midlife. Lowering cholesterol levels is beneficial for both your heart and brain.
Stop smoking. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can be prevented in large part by not smoking. According to a study, smokers who are over 65 have a nearly 80% greater risk of Alzheimer’s than non-smokers. Smokers who stop smoking experience almost instant improvements in their brain circulation.