There is no doubt that fear of Alzheimer’s can be a major concern as we get older. However there are some positive lifestyle steps that can help and all of them are simple and straightforward.
There is no claim that these strategies will prevent you from having the disease, but research by an expert panel that reviewed the research behind hundreds of studies at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in the USA believe that they may help lower the chances of memory loss.
What are the top three?
The evidence clearly showed that these three strategies proved to be the most effective at reducing your risk.
• Getting regular exercise
• Managing blood pressure
• Doing “brain training”
It is encouraging that simple lifestyle changes could help prevent decline in thinking and memory.The report, titled “Preventing Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Way Forward,” is clearly needed as there were an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2015 and this number is believed to be close to 50 million people in 2017 and this number will almost double every 20 years.
So how do they help?
Exercise on a regular basis has been linked with a healthy brain, but there’s not enough research to pinpoint how much is needed or what type of exercise is best.
What we do know is that exercise is good for your body and mind and helps keep your system functioning more optimally so whatever you can do to help keep yourself active will be beneficial overall.
Managing high blood pressure, especially from ages 35 to 65, lowers the chance of having dementia according to some research. While previous research has found that some blood pressure drugs can cut the odds of having Alzheimer’s better than others, what seems to matter most, is not the specific drug used but that blood pressure is controlled and the can include exercise, diet and lifestyle options.
Brain training includes a variety of activities, such as computer-based and non-computer-based training exercises to improve memory, problem solving, and other skills.
So basically whatever you need to keep you interested, active and involved will all help you reduce your risk. Whether that is brain training programmes, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles or choosing a new hobby that stretches your ability such as learning a new skill or language all can make a difference.
Diet too can make a difference
The MIND Diet is a combination of two diets that have well-known health benefits – Mediterranean and DASH. The name is short for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay which is a bit of a mouthful but it’s designed to prevent or slow brain decline.
Early studies show that it lowers risk of Alzheimer’s by 53% in those who follow it closely and by 35% in those who follow more loosely. The diet emphasises eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy, and keeping salt in check so nothing new there – but certainly it would be a healthy diet for any condition.
There is moderate evidence that the Mediterranean diet or a similar one, such as DASH, may help lower the chance of having dementia and clearly we know that what is good for your heart is going to be good for your brain too.
Another report from The Labrix Laboratories indicated that the restoration of balanced hormones is an integral part of the treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Maintaining optimal hormone levels may help to protect against the damage and degeneration that leads to the disease in the first place. Either bioidentical progesterone alone, or a combined cream of progesterone and natural oestrogens may be most effective, depending on other menopausal symptoms.