9 Key Lifestyle Changes for Preventing Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Can I ask you something – did you know that Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States? The answer is YES and you’ll be shocked when we tell you that Alzheimer’s actually kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. The real and ugly truth is that the medical community puts emphasis on slowing the progression of the disease after onset with drugs and therapy, instead of putting the focus on preventing Alzheimer’s. According to the experts, if you truly understand dementia, then you can change your lifestyle to protect your brain from cognitive decline before it happens.
The million-dollar question – what’s dementia? We can answer that question for you – according to the Alzheimer’s association, dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life… Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.
Dementia is characterized by at least two of these mental functions:
- Communication and language
- Ability to focus and pay attention
- Reasoning and judgment
- Visual perception
You should be very careful, because dementia is a progressive illness. This means that it gets worse as it progresses. It may start with forgetting where you placed your keys and can turn into forgetting your relatives or forgetting to eat. The disease causes damage to brain cells and interferes with cell communication. This affects thinking, judgment, movement, behavior and feelings.
Risk factors for dementia include:
- Head injuries
- Impaired thyroid function
- Low physical activity
- Poor diet and vitamin deficiencies
- Certain medication
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Alcohol use
- Old age
- Family history of Alzheimer’s disease
Ladies and gentlemen, you should be very careful, and if you find yourself in these risk factor categories, taking steps in preventing Alzheimer’s now can improve cognitive function in older age. According to the latest statistics, Alzheimer’s is actually the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of cases.
Other varieties of the disease include:
- Vascular dementia
- Dementia with Lewy bodies
- Mixed dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus
- Huntington’s Disease
- Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
The most common (WARNING) signs of Alzheimer’s include: difficulty remembering recent conversations, names or locations; apathy and depression; impaired communication; poor judgment; disorientation; confusion; behavior changes and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking. Alzheimer’s is characterized by beta-amyloid deposits in the brain, twisted strands of the protein tau, as well as nerve cell damage and death.
9 Natural Tricks for Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease
The experts say that if you are a high risk for dementia or if you have a family history of the disease, there are a few things you can do regularly to lower your risk of developing dementia.
- Quit Smoking
A group of researchers in Finland have discovered that smoking more than two packs of cigarettes daily from age 50 to 60 increases risk of dementia later in life. They’ve also discovered that former smokers or people who smoked less than half a pack per day did not appear to be at increased risk of developing dementia. The increased risk is mostly due to the fact that smoking contributes to oxidative stress and inflammation. Many other studies have also confirmed the link between smoking and Alzheimer’s. So, you should quit smoking! And, if you’re having trouble quitting, there are many natural herbs that can help you with this problem.
- Be Physically Active
You should exercise every day, because physical activity has a positive impact on every part of your body, including your brain. Did you know that physical activity boosts oxygen and nutrient circulation to your brain and helps prevent risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.? A recent study, conducted by group of experts at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio recruited almost 100 older men and women, aged 65 to 89, some of whom had a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. Half of these participants carried the carried the e4 gene, which substantially increased their risk of developing the disease.
Participants were split into four groups:
- e4-positive group who exercised
- e4-positive group who did not exercise
- e4-negative group who exercised
- e4-negative group who did not exercise
- The e4-positive group who did not exercise underwent significant atrophy of their hippocampus in as little as 18 months. And, the cerebral structure had shrunk by 3% on average.
- The e4 group that exercised experienced no change in their hippocampus and neither did the e4-negative groups.
This means that you should exercise at least 3 times a week and move around at least 30 minutes a day. Try walking around the block, swimming or cycling or get your blood flowing.
- Vitamin B
First of all, you should know that B vitamins reduce the levels of a molecule known as homocysteine or HC in your blood. According to the experts, HC damages the vascular system and can lead to strokes, heart diseases, and other vascular problems. These conditions, in turn, have a devastating effect on your brain. Also, raised homocysteine levels actually initiate cognitive impairment and poor brain performance, increase your risk of dementia, and boost brain shrinkage. A recent study has confirmed that high levels of B vitamins (folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12) slow down brain atrophy in patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Another B-vitamin, thiamine, helps brain cells produce energy from sugar to ensure proper brain function. Thiamine deficiency is linked to Korsakoff Syndrome, a chronic memory disorder part of the dementia umbrella. This means that you should consume B-rich foods: eggs and dairy products.
- Vitamin D
Can I ask you something – did you know that Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most widespread deficiencies in modern times, affecting 40-75% of all adults worldwide? The vitamin is produced by your body when your skin is exposed to direct sunlight. Vitamin D is also very important for mental health and cognitive function. Study confirms – a 6-year study examining 1,600 seniors and it has revealed that vitamin D deficiency was linked to Alzheimer’s Disease. The best way to “get” Vitamin di is to walk outside and expose your skin (no sunscreen) for at least 15 minutes a day.
- Train Your Brain
You need to train your brain – every day! According to the experts, learning new information forces your brain to reorganize itself to make room for new knowledge. This “process” also has to create new neuropath ways to connect new and existing information. A recent study, conducted by Canadian researchers has discovered that being bilingual supports cognitive function and even delays the onset of dementia in patients with probable Alzheimer’s Disease by 4 years on average. For other varieties of dementia, the onset was delayed by 3 years on average. NOTE: you should practice brain-stimulating games like crossword puzzles and sudoku or play challenging games like scrabble and chess. Or, you can learn to play a new instrument or take a class at your local community college.
- Prevent Head Injuries
We all know that head injuries can cause short-term dementia-like symptoms like confusion, memory loss, and changes in speech, vision, and personality. And, the experts warn that some head injuries can actually increase your risk of developing dementia later in life, especially if it causes 30 minutes to 24 hours of unconsciousness after initial injury. A recent study, conducted by group of researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, examined 548 veterans with a head injury and 1228 without head injury to yield these results. Ladies and gentlemen, you MUST protect your head by wearing a helmet while cycling, skating, skiing, or water sports to reduce your risk of dementia.
- Control Your Alcohol Intake
Stop consuming alcohol! It’s that simple! I really think that you’ll be shocked when we tell you that alcohol-related brain damage, caused by years of alcohol abuse can contribute towards Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and alcoholic dementia. That’s because both conditions are reversible if you gradually reduce your alcohol intake. Your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia also go up with excessive drinking.
- Track Your Numbers
As we said, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity are all risk factors! So, it’s very important to monitor your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
- Increase your Social interaction
According to a 2014 study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, feeling lonely rather than being alone is associated with an increased risk of clinical dementia in later life and can be considered a major risk factor that, independently of vascular disease, depression, and other confounding factor. The study followed 2173 non-demented community-living older persons for three years. And, in order to prevent isolation, you can always find a neighbor to accompany you on daily walks, sign up for a new cooking class to meet new friends or set up weekly phone calls with your loved ones.
Source: Daily Health Post