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 AD, including:
Researchers are looking into a variety of Alzheimer’s treatments they think may help, including:
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 lifestyle changes.
Some evidence suggests a Mediterranean diet may decrease your risk of developing AD. This diet includes little red meat and emphasizes:
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 rodents.
An active brain may reduce your AD risk. Activities that help keep the brain active include:
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:
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.
The Mayo Clinic advises that being engaged with your surroundings is good for your mental, physical, and emotional health.
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:
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:
Food sources of B-6 and B-12include:
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.
Grabbing a bagel on your way to work might be as routine as brushing your teeth. Changing eating habits you’ve developed over the years — even unconsciously — can feel as tough as trying to move a mountain. Yes, learned behaviors are hard to undo, but if you take it step-by-step, it’s certainly possible. Try these behavior-changing approaches, and focus on the ones that speak to you.
Heading off problems before they develop is the crux of this approach. “A” stands for antecedent, “B” stands for behavior and “C” stands for consequence. Most behaviors have an antecedent — or cause. And causes lead to consequences. By addressing antecedents first, you can prevent unwanted consequences. For example, you might decide not to buy ice cream, because keeping it in the freezer leads to the behavior of eating most or all of it in one sitting, which has the consequence of disrupting your weight program.
This is a way to change unhealthy eating habits by focusing your attention on something else when food cravings start. To use this approach, when you feel a craving coming on, remind yourself that it will last for 20 minutes at most. Then do something — call a friend, read a book, revisit your goals, take a walk — anything that will distract you until the feeling passes.
This approach to behavior change requires that you confront yourself mentally about the negative impact of your behavior. For example: If you’re craving cookies, think about the unnecessary calories and fat you’ll be consuming — and how tired and sluggish you’ll feel afterward. Remind yourself that this isn’t what you want to do with your life.
Try changing your behavior gradually, one step at a time. Instead of eliminating evening snacks altogether, start with a rule of no snack one night a week. Increase that to two nights a week. Eventually you might be able to scale back to a snack one evening a week. As you succeed with step-by-step changes, you’ll build confidence that will start fueling even more successes.
Big lifestyle changes take time but keep at it. The mini successes you’ll achieve along the way will be enough to keep you going, and the new habits that were challenging at first will start feeling more natural before you know it.
Has the same number on the scale been popping up week after week? That’s common. Being stuck at a weight-loss plateau eventually happens to most people trying to lose weight, despite continuing with the same exercise routine and healthy-eating habits.
Protect your health by including these nutrients in your regular diet:
Starting a fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health. After all, physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination, help you lose weight, and even boost your self-esteem. And you can reap these benefits regardless of your age, sex or physical ability.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults include aerobic exercise and strength training in their fitness plans, specifically:
Regular exercise can help you control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers, and strengthen your bones and muscles. But if you haven’t exercised for some time and you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.
When you’re designing your personal fitness program, consider your fitness goals. Think about your fitness likes and dislikes, and note your personal barriers to fitness. Then consider practical strategies for keeping your fitness program on track.
Starting a fitness program is an important decision, but it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming one. By planning carefully and pacing yourself, you can make fitness a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime.