Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. A family history of Alzheimer’s and increasing age are considered risk factors for development of Alzheimer’s disease, but they don’t always lead to memory loss or dementia. Lifestyle and environment seem to be more influential than genes for some individuals. There is growing evidence that, regardless of age, a healthy lifestyle promotes a healthy brain.
Scientists are not yet sure how or why good health habits work to overcome a predisposition to Alzheimer’s; since we don’t fully understand the causes of this disease, we can’t be sure that everyone can avoid getting it. What we do know is that people can reduce some of their risk factors.
Medical providers suggest that the best hope for preventing or slowing down Alzheimer’s is to adopt a lifestyle by doing the following:
- Eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise.
- Avoid jarring your brain.
- Exercise your mind to keep your brain in tone.
For exercise, 30 minutes of brisk walking on most days of the week should be sufficient to keep the heart and brain healthy. Since exercise promotes good blood flow to the brain and encourages growth of new brain cells, it probably lowers the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease and slows cognitive decline in people who already have Alzheimer’s. Besides walking, try workouts (strength training), get involved in a sport, join a hiking club, or go dancing.
Diet tips for promoting brain health include the following:
- Eat a diet low in cholesterol, saturated fat, sugar, and salt.
- Eat a diet high in dietary fiber (such as oats and beans), fruits, vegetables, whole grains (such as whole wheat bread and pasta brown rice), other complex carbohydrates, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
- Eat antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, which contain Vitamin E and beta-carotene.
- Vitamin-E-rich foods include blueberries, cranberries, grapes, fresh apples (especially the skins of red apples), papaya, green leafy vegetables, onions, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
- Beta-carotene-rich foods include dark orange, red, and dark green fruits and vegetables.
- Eat plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. These beneficial fats are found in salmon, lake trout, sardines, mackerel, albacore tuna, and herring as well as in flax oil and spinach.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- If you are a smoker, quit smoking.
Alzheimer’s is a devastating illness, and unfortunately there isn’t a cure. Why not do all that we can to possibly assist in slowing down the risk?
Trainer Tip by Christina Perez.