Although it’s scary to think about losing your mental facilities as you age, there are some ways to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s Disease affects the mind and common symptoms include memory loss, confusion, mood swings, a lack of confidence and losing the ability to do everyday tasks. It is one of those conditions that causes more pain and distress to the loved ones and carers than the sufferer themselves, but that doesn’t make the ways to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease any less valuable to know.
I know you’re probably sick of hearing that a good diet is essential but I think that sometimes the message lacks gravitas as it is like a mantra we hear and read every day. If you can relate the need for a good diet to tangible and real risks to health, it makes more sense. Having a good diet is definitely one of the ways to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. You may have heard that green tea and blueberries are good foods in combating the risk of Alzheimer’s but you also need to take care against the build up of a protein in the blood (known to increase risk ref: bbc.co.uk ) and this can be achieved by increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids you consume. Another important nutrient to make sure you get plenty of is Vitamin E. People with higher levels of Vitamin E are known to suffer less loss of cognitive function as they age.
Of course, along with a healthy diet comes exercise. According to the Ontario Brain Institute, older adults who exercise for 30 minutes each day reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 40%(ref: braininstitute.ca) compared to those who undertake little physical activity. A separate study showed that even simple daily tasks like cooking and cleaning the house can help ward off the disease.
It might seem illogical to say that maintaining a healthy weight is important given that I’ve just told you about the importance of diet and exercise, but how many of us go through periods of cyclical weight gain and weight loss? It is best to find a happy, healthy weight and maintain it, rather than make the scale needle yo yo. And, in case you are wondering, there is a link to obesity and Alzheimer’s Disease. A study in Sweden (ki.se) showed that obese middle-aged people are almost four times as likely to develop dementia compared to those with a normal BMI (Body Mass Index). This was corroborated by a US study that found having a hefty waistline in your 40s can treble the risk of dementia in old age.
Sleeping enough is essential. During sleep, your body is rejuvenating, re-energizing and replenishing. It is the time your brain and body can concentrate, uninterrupted, on all those processes that it needs to function healthily when you are working it hard during the daytime. During sleep, you aren’t punishing your muscles causing inflammation, you aren’t stressing causing free radical damage and your brain is given a break from information overload. Getting sufficient sleep is one of the ways to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, but only about two-thirds of us do. The other third thinks it can get by on 5-6 hours per night. Not so! Various studies (ref: healthrender.com) have shown that a lack of sleep increases the build-up of protein plaques on the brain which are connected to the development of Alzheimer’s.
You can check out some excellent reasons why to drink red wine in Jessica’s article here food.allwomenstalk.com and you’ll see that she mentions the benefits relating to Alzheimer’s. This has been cited by various studies (ref: potsdam.edu) and professionals in the health community. The important thing to remember is that moderate alcohol consumption may reduce the risk of dementia and reduce the risk of cognitive impairment by 20%. On the flip side is binge drinking which is thought to do the opposite. So think moderation and no bingeing!
Eye health is another area to take care of if you are going to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. A study by the University of Michigan (uofmhealth.org) showed that you can reduce your risk by more than 60% if you take care of your vision. It makes sense if you think about it. In order to do all the things already mentioned, you need decent eyesight. Having poor eyesight can make it difficult or be less motivating to take part in simple exercises like walking and cognitive activities such as reading.
There is no comprehensive medical evidence yet (although there is lots of on-going research) that all of these new-fangled brain training games and apps reduce the risk of cognitive impairment, but there also isn’t evidence to suggest otherwise. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping your brain in tip-top shape and if you improve your cognitive ability in doing so, it can only be a good thing. You don’t need brain training games to do it either. Mentally challenge yourself on a daily basis. Do a puzzle or learn some new words – basically anything that makes you think harder than usual.
It is a devastating disease but I think that these ways to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s are actually a really good tenet for a healthy life in any circumstances. Does losing your faculties in older age scare you?
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