Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. In Alzheimer’s, two kinds of proteins build up in the brain: plaques and tangles. The disease kills brain cells over time, eventually resulting in death.
Researchers have been working to determine whether it’s possible to prevent Alzheimer’s. There is tremendous evidence that comprehensive lifestyle intervention can help a great majority of those that would have otherwise developed Alzheimer’s avoid it.
What Causes Alzheimer’s?
Where as a small percentage (3-5%) of Alzheimer’s cases are driven by one or more genetic sources, the greater majority are caused by lifestyle risk factors for Alzheimer’s which include brain inflammation, vascular issues, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and others.
Age, environment and certain pre-existing medical conditions are also potential risk factors. While some factors can’t be changed, others, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar levels can be modified to lower an individual’s risk. By focusing on these factors we have been able to reverse early symptoms of dementia in many that would have otherwise developed dementia.
Lifestyle Changes To Prevent Alzheimer’s
Evidence suggests that making lifestyle changes, including physical activity, nutrition, stress, sleep patterns, mental activity and developing healthy habits, can lead to the prevention of Alzheimer’s. We use the acronym NEURO (nutrition, exercise, unwind, restore and optimize) to help people recall the components that lead to optimal brain health.
Nutrition – in Alzheimer’s Prevention
We have found that a whole food plant-based diet provides the best nutrition for brain health. Following our recommended diet can help improve memory and cognition. The components of a healthy diet include:
• Leafy greens
• Cruciferous vegetables
• Whole grains
These foods are high in fiber and rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients that can improve brain health. Eating these healthy foods for the brain can go a long way toward furthering Alzheimer’s prevention.
Exercise – Helps Slow or Prevent Alzheimer’s
Physical exercise appears to help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s or slow the disease’s progress in those who already have it. Exercise may help brain cells by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen in the brain. Daily exercise performed periodically throughout the day can help prevent Alzheimer’s. Leg strength has been linked to better brain health, so it’s important to incorporate leg exercises in your routine. Squats are one of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your legs. Of course, anyone embarking on a new exercise program should first check with their doctor.
Unwind – Stay Strong in and Win The Fight
Stress management is an essential component in helping to prevent Alzheimer’s. Chronic stress is a possible environmental factor implicated in people who develop Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown chronic stress can hasten the onset or increase the severity of a number of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Research is underway to assess the effect of stress on cognitive decline.
Restore – Sleep!
It’s important to get the proper amount of restorative sleep. Current research shows a correlation between better sleep and preventing Alzheimer’s. According to a report in Time magazine, sleep clears toxins from the brains. Research shows that during sleep, our brain cells flush out toxins that cause memory impairment and damage cognitive function. These toxins can build up over time to become a factor in Alzheimer’s.
Optimal – Social and Cognitive Engagement and Challenge
It is believed that maintaining a social network can help to prevent Alzheimer’s. There is a great deal of evidence, including our won research, showing that keeping your mind active and challenged with complex real life activities like play music, learning to dance, learning a new language, taking college courses, or leading projects and volunteering build the connections between our brain cells better than anything else and reduce chance of developing dementia by as much as 40%. So keep your mind active and challenged around activities that you love.
The Last Word in Alzheimer’s Prevention
Though each person needs to build a lifestyle program that is driven by their own capabilities, resources and needs it is essential that all of the lifestyle areas mentioned above are incorporated in one’s daily routines. Making healthy changes to your diet, increasing your level of exercise, managing stress, getting the proper quantity and quality of sleep, and remaining socially and intellectually engaged can have a seismic impact on brain health and may also help prevent other diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. More Alzheimer’s information will be available as we publish more of our research.