Alzheimer’s disease is one of the biggest concerns that many of us have as we get older. Millions have been affected by this, having witnessed the devastation with loved ones who have been diagnosed. It is, as we all know, a grim image, so it is imperative that each of us do everything possible to avoid the disease.
While we do not know exactly what causes Alzheimer’s disease, there is growing evidence to suggest that the changes you make now can have a considerable impact on what happens to your brain within decades.
The current idea is that we may be able to significantly slow down or even stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by taking as many brain support habits as soon as possible in life.
Here are the big ones to help keep your brain in tip-top shape for as long as possible:
Make quality sleep a top priority.
The dream, as well as its deeply refreshing counterpart, meditation, is not a luxury; It is an absolutely essential act of daily maintenance, and it is your ally to keep your brain sharp and youthful.
So, the next time you plan to reduce the sleep corners, consider this: sleep can be critical to avoiding early mental decline. When you fall asleep, your brain protects itself from toxic proteins.
Its glyphatic system expels the cerebrospinal fluid through the brain to eliminate proteins that accumulate between cells, byproducts of neurological processes during the day.
This “nighttime cleansing” keeps the brain clean and healthy, but this brain cleansing equipment only works when you’re asleep.
If you do not let them do their job, it’s like having a party one night and leaving to clean up the mess the next day, and then have another party. These waste products begin to accumulate, the house begins to deteriorate.
Science is now linking this toxic accumulation with the loss of neurological function. Over time, this “garbage accumulation” of proteins in the brain can contribute to dementia and Alzheimer’s, so never underestimate the power of a good nap! Be sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
More movement, and a lot less couch-potato time.
In a nutshell, moving your ass is good for your brain. Frequent movement helps improve memory and slows cognitive decline. The movement also increases the flow of blood to the brain, the key to the health of the organ.
Regular exercise reduces the risk of developing the disease in half, so keep moving. If you are a desk rider, make more movement in your day by activating an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up from your chair and make a round or two around the office every 30 minutes or so.
When the time is too short for a workout of 30 or 45 minutes, adopt the idea of the “micro session”, as in, do any kind of movement for ten minutes at least once or twice a day. Ten minutes of movement, which are approximately 3 worthwhile songs on your phone, which are performed several times in a day can cause blood to pump to all the places you want to go.
In Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation and insulin resistance damage neurons and inhibit communication between brain cells.
Alzheimer’s disease is sometimes described as “brain diabetes,” and a growing body of research suggests a strong link between metabolic disorders and signal processing systems.
However, by adjusting your eating habits, you can help reduce inflammation and protect your brain.
Cut the sugar. Sugary foods and refined carbohydrates, such as white flour, white rice, and pasta, can cause drastic increases in blood sugar that inflame the brain.
Be careful with the sugar hidden in all types of packaged foods, from cereals and bread to pasta sauce and low-fat or fat-free products.
Enjoy a Mediterranean diet. Several epidemiological studies show that eating a Mediterranean diet dramatically reduces the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
That means lots of vegetables, beans, whole grains, fish and olive oil, and limited processed foods.
Avoid trans fats. These fats can cause inflammation and produce free radicals, which are hard on the brain.
Reduce your intake by avoiding fast foods, fried foods and packaged foods, and anything that contains “partially hydrogenated oils,” even if they are said to be trans fat-free.
Eat a lot of omega-3 fats. Evidence suggests that the DHA found in these healthy fats can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by reducing beta-amyloid plaques.
Food sources include cold-water fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, seaweed, and sardines. You can also supplement with fish oil.
Stock up on fruits and vegetables when it comes to fruits and vegetables, the more the better.
Eat throughout the spectrum of colors to maximize antioxidants and protective vitamins, including green leafy vegetables, berries and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli.
Enjoy the daily teacups. Regular consumption of large tea can improve memory and mental alertness and delay brain aging. White and oolong teas are also particularly healthy for the brain.
Drinking 2-4 cups a day has proven benefits. Although not as potent as tea, coffee also confers benefits for the brain.
Cook at home often. When cooking at home, you can be sure to eat fresh, healthy foods that are rich in brain health nutrients and low in sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, and additives.
Those who continue to learn new things and challenge their brains throughout life are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In essence, you need to “use it or lose it”.
In the innovative NIH ACTIVE study, older adults who received only 10 sessions of mental training not only improved their cognitive functioning in daily activities in the months after training but continued to show lasting improvements 10 years later.
Activities that involve multiple tasks or that require communication, interaction and organization offer the greatest protection. Spend some time each day to stimulate your brain:
Learn something new: Study a foreign language, practice a musical instrument, learn to paint or sew, or read the newspaper or a good book.
One of the best ways to acquire a new hobby is to enroll in a class and then schedule regular hours to practice. The bigger the novelty, difficulty and challenge, the greater the benefit.
Raise the bar for an existing activity. If you are not interested in learning something new, you can still challenge your brain by increasing your skills and knowledge about something you are already doing.
For example, if you can play the piano and do not want to learn a new instrument, commit to learning a new piece of music or improving the way you play your favorite piece. Or if you are a golfer, try to reduce your handicap.
Practice memorization. Start with something short, moving towards something a little more complicated, like the 50 capitals of the US states. Create rhymes and patterns to strengthen your memory connections.
Enjoy strategy games, riddles, and riddles. Enigmas and strategy games provide a great mental exercise and develop your ability to form and retain cognitive associations.
Do a crossword puzzle, play cards or word, board games, and number games such as Scrabble or Sudoku.
Practice the 5 W’s. Observe and report as a crime detective. Keep a list of “Who, what, where, when and why” of your daily experiences. Capturing visual details keeps your neurons firing.
Follow the road less traveled. Take a new route, eat with your non-dominant hand, reorganize your computer’s file system. Differ your habits repeatedly to create new brain pathways.
Chronic or persistent stress can have a high cost on the brain, leading to shrinkage in a key memory area, which hinders the growth of nerve cells and increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
However, simple stress management tools can minimize their harmful effects.
Breathe! Calm your response to stress with deep, abdominal breathing. Reparative breathing is powerful, simple and free!
Schedule daily relaxation activities. Keeping stress under control requires a regular effort. Make relaxation a priority, whether it’s walking through the park, playing with your dog, doing yoga or taking a relaxing bath.
Nourish inner peace. Regular meditation, prayer, reflection, and religious practice can immunize you against the damaging effects of stress.
Make fun a priority. All work and not playing is not good for your stress levels or for your brain. Devote time to leisure activities that bring you joy, whether contemplating the stars, playing the piano or working on your bike.
Stop Smoking & Stop Alzheimer
Smoking is one of the most preventable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. One study found that smokers over 65 have an Alzheimer’s risk almost 80% higher than those who have never smoked.
When you stop smoking, the brain benefits from better circulation almost immediately.
Control blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Both high blood pressure and high total cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Improving those numbers is good for both your brain and your heart.
Take care of your weight
The extra kilos are a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. One important study found that people who were overweight in middle age were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s in the future, and those who were obese were three times more at risk.
Losing weight can go a long way to protect your brain.