Alzheimer’s disease, the irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills among the over 60s, creates heartache for those affected and their families. Whilst many people assume forgetfulness is the inevitable result of growing older, it is not necessarily indicative of Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s quite normal to forget where you put your keys – but if you can’t remember what the keys are for, you might be facing the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Whilst the disease is irreversible, research indicates that some lifestyle choices can delay the onset and severity of Alzheimer’s. Here are 9 ways to protect yourself:
1. Stop smoking
Smoking contributes to many health risks, including cancer and heart disease. Recent studies have also confirmed a link between smoking and Alzheimer’s.
2. Keep physically active
Physical activity has many positive benefits, including helping to prevent osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. By boosting oxygen and nutrient circulation to the brain, it has now also been proved to substantially decrease the chance of developing Alzheimer’s, especially among people who carry the high risk e4 gene.
3. Increase Vitamin B intake
Adequate levels of B vitamins (folic Acid, vitamins B6 and B12) slow down brain atrophy in patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Thiamine helps brain cells produce energy from sugar to ensure proper brain function. Thiamine deficiency is linked to Korsakoff Syndrome, a chronic memory disorder falling under the dementia umbrella.
4. Get some sunshine every day
Vitamin D, produced by the body when skin is exposed to direct sunlight, is one of the most widespread deficiencies in modern times, affecting 40-75% of adults worldwide. The vitamin is crucial for mental health and cognitive function; those who are severely deficient in vitamin D are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
5. Keep mentally active
Learning new things forces the brain to create new neuro pathways to connect and store new information. Brain stimulating activities such as crosswords and sudoku and challenging games like Scrabble and chess can help stave off the onset of Alzheimer’s, as can learning to play a musical instrument or learning a new language.
6. Prevent head injuries
Head injuries, especially those resulting in loss of consciousness, often result in short term symptoms of confusion, memory loss and changes in speech, vision and personality – which can actually increase your risk of developing dementia in later life. Wear a helmet while cycling or horse riding to protect your head from injury.
7. Control alcohol intake
Your risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia go up with excessive drinking. Years of alcohol abuse can contribute towards Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which is reversible if alcohol intake is reduced.
8. Maintain a healthy weight
Diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity are all risk factors for Alzheimer’s. Monitor your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels and exercise and diet if necessary to lose weight.
9. Stay social
Feeling lonely, rather than being alone, is associated with an increased risk of clinical dementia in later life. Maintaining a circle of friends and social activities is one of the easiest and most important steps towards preventing Alzheimer’s.
[with acknowledgement to DailyHealthPost.com]