Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Overview
There is no known way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Researchers,
pharmaceutical companies, foundations, and nonprofit organizations are all
involved with research aimed to slow, delay, and prevent AD. These
- cognitive training
(e.g., vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene)
- omega-3 fatty
- DHA (docosahexaenoic
- hormones, type-2
diabetes treatments (insulin seems to play a role in AD)
There are certain steps you can take now to lower your risk of
Alzheimer’s disease. Consult your doctor before making any major lifestyle
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Some evidence suggests a Mediterranean diet may decrease
your risk of developing AD. This diet includes little red meat and emphasizes:
- whole grains
- fruits and vegetables
- fish and shellfish
- olive oil
- other healthy fats
Other studies suggest that antioxidants may affect age-related
changes in the brain. Blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries have shown to improve
cognitive function in rats and mice. This includes both during normal aging and
in animals that develop AD.
Another study examined curcumin, the main ingredient of the
yellowish spice used in curry, turmeric. It’s a powerful antioxidant. Curcumin
can suppress the build-up of harmful amyloid plaques in the brains of rodents.
Keep Up Your Mental Exercise
An active brain may reduce your AD risk. Activities like listening
to the radio, reading newspapers, playing puzzle games, and visiting museums
help to keep the brain active.
Engaging in mental exercises seems to create or contribute to your
“cognitive reserve.” In other words, you develop additional neurons and
pathways in your brain. Why is this important?
Normally, your brain has one road to transport information from
point A to point B. If there is a roadblock or dead end, the information won’t
make it. People who develop new ways of thinking through mental exercises
create multiple and alternative routes in their brains. This makes it easier
and faster for vital information to travel.
So exercise your brain. Do crossword puzzles, take up bridge, or
learn a new language.
Increase Your Social Engagement
Compelling research suggests seniors who spend most of their time
in their immediate home environment are almost twice as likely to develop AD
compared to those who travel more. These findings, however, may also reflect
the general health of individuals.
Still it’s well documented that being engaged with your
surroundings is good for your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Aerobic Exercise Daily
When older adults with AD engage in aerobic exercise, it improves
their psychological and behavioral symptoms.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there is much evidence
suggesting that 30 minutes of exercise per day is crucial to preventing
Alzheimer’s disease. One 8-year study examined the connection between mental
function and physical activity in 6000 women age 65 and older. It discovered
that more active women were less likely to have a decline in mental functions
than less active women.
Smoking may increase your risk
for AD and dementia. However, former smokers or those who smoked less than half
a pack per day do not appear to have an increased risk. So if you still
smoke, now is the time to quit. Talk with your doctor about methods
that could work for you.
Homocysteine is an amino acid that’s a building block of protein. It
naturally circulates in the blood. Recent studies indicate that higher than
average blood levels of homocysteine is a risk factor for AD, vascular
dementia, and cognitive impairment.
Foods high in folate (folic acid) and other B vitamins (such as
B6 and B12) have been shown to lower homocysteine levels. Whether or not
increasing these B vitamins in one’s diet might offer a protective effect for
AD is yet unknown.
Some good sources of folate include:
- romaine lettuce
- collard greens
Sources of B6 and B12 include:
- red meat
- non-citrus fruit
- fortified cereal