Hoping to read about the latest pill to make Alzheimer’s preventable?
Believe me, I’m counting the days until I can bring you that news, but there’s no sign of it yet. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of getting Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia:
The connection between lifestyle and brain health
Research suggests that the following steps may help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s:
- Remain as physically active as possible
- Eat well
- Socialize regularly
- Exercise your brain
Okay, so we’ve all heard these before. But here’s what they have to do with Alzheimer’s…
How physical activity and eating well can impact your risk of developing Alzheimer’s
Many studies have shown that having high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. Does this surprise you? If you think about it, it makes sense. Your brain is an organ just like your heart. In order for it to work properly, blood needs to flow smoothly.
High blood pressure is bad because it forces your heart to pump blood faster than it should. By the same token, high cholesterol is bad because cholesterol is a fat-like substance that builds up and slows down the flow of blood.
Physical activity and good eating habits can help to normalize your blood pressure and keep your cholesterol at a healthy level. Which, incidentially, is a total blood cholesterol (total means LDL, HDL & triglycerides) of below 200 mg/dL according to the American Heart Association.
Simply put, what’s good for your heart may also be good for your brain, or so science suggests.
Make friends! Stave off Alzheimer’s!
While there are no guarantees, research does suggests that people who frequently participate in social activities and maintain a number of social connections may also be reducing the risk of mental decline and the development of Alzheimer’s.
When I learned this fact I immediately thought about a recent story I’d heard involving a local Meals-on-Wheels program. Where I live, the threat of funding cuts for this program is fairly constant. And whenever the Governor tries to pass cuts, like clockwork, seniors and their advocates take to the streets and cause an uproar.
One of the things that is always discussed as part of the argument to save the funding is that these programs offer seniors an opportunity to socialize and that this is important to their well-being. That concern has been echoed by the family caregivers I’ve spoken with as well.
Exercise your brain
You may have heard this before, but one of the best ways to exercise your brain is by completing crossword puzzles.
Well, because thinking about the words helps to stimulate your brain. And if you’re like me, and a crossword puzzle takes a good bit of time to complete, your brain is being required to maintain that level of stimulation for a longer duration.
If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, then you understand this principle. Not only do you need to get into position to do yoga, but you have to hold that position until the drill sergeant – I mean yoga instructor - tells you to let go.
Also, the more you complete crossword and other puzzles, the more you are exercising your brain.
We all seem to understand this when it comes to the muscles in our body (e.g. the more we lift weights, the stronger we will be). But it’s important to know that this principle may also apply to our brains and may reduce our risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Learn how to tell the difference between Alzheimer’s and normal age-related forgetfulness once and for all!