Alzheimer’s disease prevention
There is no known way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Many
agencies and people are involved in research on ways to slow, delay, or prevent
- pharmaceutical companies
- nonprofit organizations
Researchers are looking into a variety of Alzheimer’s
treatments they think may help, including:
- cognitive training
- antioxidants (e.g., vitamin C, vitamin E,
- omega-3 fatty acids
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) supplementation
- hormones, type 2 diabetes treatments (insulin seems to
play a role in AD)
- cardiovascular treatments
Lowering your risk
There are a number of steps you can take now that may lower
your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Consult your doctor before making any major
Maintain a healthy diet
Some evidence suggests a Mediterranean diet may
decrease your risk of developing AD. This diet includes little red meat and
- 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. Berries have been shown to improve cognitive
function in rats and mice, both in animals who are aging normally and in those
who have developed AD. Types of berries that may help include:
Another study examined curcumin, the main ingredient of turmeric,
the yellowish spice used in curry. It’s a powerful antioxidant. Curcumin has
been shown to suppress the build-up of harmful amyloid plaques in the brains of
Keep up your mental exercise
An active brain may reduce your AD risk. Activities that
help keep the brain active include:
- listening to the radio
- reading newspapers
- playing puzzle games
- visiting museums
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’s a roadblock or a 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.
To exercise your brain, try the following activities:
- Do crossword puzzles.
- Take up bridge.
- 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 the individuals.
Clinic advises 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’s evidence suggesting that 30 minutes of exercise per day is
crucial to preventing Alzheimer’s disease. One eight-year study examined the
connection between mental function and physical activity in 6,000 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. Former
smokers or those who smoked less than half a pack per day do not appear to have
an increased risk. 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:
- vascular dementia
- cognitive impairment
Foods high in folate (folic acid) and other B vitamins (such
as B-6 and B-12) 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 food sources of folate include:
- romaine lettuce
- collard greens
Food sources of B-6 and B-12 include:
- red meat
- noncitrus fruit
- fortified cereal
Researchers don’t yet know how to prevent Alzheimer’s
disease. There are a number of things you can do to lower your risk of
developing the disease. Staying mentally and physically fit, eating a healthy
diet, and keeping an active social life are all thought to help lower your risk
of cognitive decline, including AD. Fortunately, these are all good ways to
stay healthy in general. Be sure to talk with your doctor about any new
lifestyle changes that you plan.