9 Lifestyle Guidelines to Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s
The risk of Alzheimer’s disease development is due to certain factors although there has been no exact cause of the disorder found. These certain risk factors can include age, genetics, genes, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, inflammation and traumatic head injuries. Due to the fact there seem to be things that predispose a person to being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there are also things that can be done to help prevent the disease. Researchers at many labs and universities have been exploring how certain things, such as environment and diet, play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s. There is no known cure or specific prevention for this complex illness as of yet, but with research scientists are getting closer.
There have been a few preliminary studies that show that what people eat could alter their risk of Alzheimer’s. A diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can reduce the risk of numerous chronic diseases. It’s not only reliant on what people do eat, but also what they avoid. Diets with a low sugar intake and less fat also help in the reduction of chronic disease.
Living a healthy lifestyle could be the answer to protecting the body against diseases in general. Testing for people following the Mediterranean diet has shown that they have a slower cognitive decline through the mini-mental state examination (MMSE). Vitamin D3 works to protect cognitive function and the body naturally produces it through sun exposure. When using oils, vegetable oil and extra virgin olive oil are the best choices. Recent studies have shown that on top of being an overall healthy option, extra virgin olive oil could help with prevention of Alzheimer’s. It works to change the Amyloid beta-Derived Diffusible Ligands (ADDLs) structure, which are thought to contribute to the disease by damaging nerve cells.
Vitamins and Herbs
Since Alzheimer’s affects cognitive function it makes sense that studies would look at food and vitamins that help maintain and improve brain function. Studies in animals have concluded that certain berries work to improve cognitive function. This study has been done on those aging normally and those that were bred specifically to develop Alzheimer’s. The berries used include strawberries, blueberries and cranberries.
Even certain spices are being found to help the human brain, like curcumin. Curcumin is most often found in turmeric flavor blends. This spice could reduce how much beta-amyloid plaques are found in the brain. This spice needs to reach the brain to do its job, and the body does not absorb it easily. Scientists are currently working on ways to make use of this spice in the fight against Alzheimer’s. There is also an antioxidant in green tea that has been shown to have similar effects as curcumin.
Just like a healthy diet, exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Studies have found that people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) can find some improvement in their cognitive agility with regular aerobic exercise. One study of 1,700 65 or older adults looked to determine the relationship between the development of Alzheimer’s disease in relation to physical activity. After 6 years, the results determined that those that had a minimum of 15 minutes of physical activity more than three times a week lowered their risk by 35 to 40-percent more than those that performed physical activity less than three times a week.
There have already been some preliminary studies on humans to determine how well fitness works in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Whether or not it can cure or reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, exercise is proven to help the body and the brain in many other healthful ways. Fitness can help seniors retain and maintain muscle strength, lowering the risk of injuries and frailty, and help them keep their body and mind more flexible. The mind is affected in a positive way by fitness because it helps release endorphins that lift mood.
Exercising the Brain
Another way scientists have found to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease is through the process of exercising the brain. By working to build up mental reserves, scientists believe this may help to delay early onset of Alzheimer’s or that it could help a person who is diagnosed with the disease retain their cognitive function for a longer period of time.
While it seems people begin building their cognitive reserves during childhood, there is a theory that these reserves can be expanded at any age. By reading more, learning new things and doing new activities, people can expand their reserves and lower their Alzheimer risk.
Another study compared the activity levels of adults with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It was discovered that the adults that were more active were less likely to develop the disease. Their activities included playing musical instruments, gardening or even playing games that were mentally challenging. Even the participants that were 40 years of age and over showed this benefit. While the studies are only preliminary, it does show that there is some impact on the risk of this disease. Whether they are the cure-all or not, it doesn’t seem to hurt the individual that give their brains the extra boost by staying active.
Some other ways that have been found to boost mental agility and human activity include reading the paper, learning a new language, writing a hand written letter, playing video games and even learning to sing or dance. Each of these works towards giving a person the mental, physical and social stimulation needed to live a healthier life.
Get Enough Sleep
Studies have shown that sleep helps the body stay healthy and rejuvenate. It has also shown that quality sleep helps protect the body from Alzheimer’s disease. The amount of sleep a person gets can influence their memory function, and also their risk of Alzheimer’s.
One doctor found that when sleep is disrupted it is associated with the growth of amyloid plaques. While there isn’t enough research on this yet, it is shown that these plaques are associated with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Longer studies are needed that work with manipulating the sleep patterns of people to determine exactly how sleep and Alzheimer’s are connected. However, everyone can benefit from a good night of sleep, which can lower the risk of more than just Alzheimer’s.
Some studies have shown that there is an association between nicotine and the decline of cognitive function, while others have shown the opposite. However, Smoking and nicotine usage have been proven to be high risk factors when it comes to stroke and heart disease.
One of these studies that were conducted by the University College London showed that men who were regular smokers faced a faster decline in cognitive function compared to men that never smoked. However, similar tests showed no link between cognitive decline and smoking on a regular basis for women. In opposition, however, a study done at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, located in Nashville, found that Nicotine patches have helped older patients suffering from mild cognitive impairment by showing improvements in their cognition.
NSAIDSS, such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen, may help with the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers continue to study these COX-inhibitors to find out how they can help with Alzheimer’s prevention. Although scientists have not found connections yet, there is enough interest to keep researching. One reason they are considered for the prevention of this disease is that they work as an anti-inflammatory, which could work to stop the development of the disease in the brain. It seems that the longer a person takes an NSAID the more their risk of Alzheimer’s disease is reduced.
Estrogen plays a big role in the function of the brain and can promote neurological health. Although long-term estrogen therapy could help with brain function, so far there is not proof that it will fight Alzheimer’s. Some studies show that it may actually be detrimental to those over 65 years of age when it comes to the disease. Estrogen apparently will only work as a preventative measure, as studies have shown that those who have been diagnosed have no positive effects with its use. It seems that starting estrogen therapy earlier in life is the only way for it to be affective in fighting future Alzheimer’s disease.
The studies are still being conducted to see if there is a surefire way to prevent or halt Alzheimer’s disease, but in the meantime, we can all do our part to fight against the disease by leading a healthy life. Taking charge of your health and that of those around you is the best way to fight against this debilitating disease that can rob you of your golden years.
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