These 5 Simple Habits Decrease Alzheimer’s Risk by 60%
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most feared illnesses of our time. Losing the ability to recognize your spouse, forgetting the important moments of your life, getting lost on the way home—memory loss steals your life.
Experts expect the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease to triple in the next 30 years, and there is no cure on the horizon. More than 200 medication trials have failed to reverse Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. But new research offers hope.
A study presented at the 2019 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference reveals that you can lower your risk of developing the disease by a whopping 60% by adopting the 4 or 5 of the following everyday lifestyle habits.
Lifestyle Changes to Fight Alzheimer’s Disease
1. Eat right: Skip fried foods, red meat, sweets, and baked goods and focus on consuming a diet high in vegetables, seafood, poultry, berries, nuts, beans, whole grains, and olive oil.
2. Get moving: Aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous exercises, such as walking, swimming, or bike riding (always wear a helmet to protect your brain!). Gardening and yard work count too!
3. Avoid excessive alcohol: Drink no more than 1 glass of wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages per day.
4. Don’t smoke: Avoid smoking cigarettes.
5. Engage in cognitive stimulation: Play chess, solve crossword puzzles, read books, or do other brain-boosting activities.
The study showed that although adopting 4 or 5 of these habits provided the greatest protection, incorporating just one of them into your daily habits also reduced risk.
Take These 5 Brain Healthy Habits to the Next Level
The habits these researchers studied are a great start, but you can gain even more brain-boosting benefits by doing the following:
1. Try the Memory Rescue Diet
Learn the two basic principles of a brain-healthy diet that will help preserve, enhance, or rescue your memory.
Principle #1: Change the way you think about eating.
- Get your mind right. Being healthy is about abundance, not about deprivation.
- Think of calories like money; spend them wisely.
- Beware the standard American diet (SAD).
Principle #2: Change the way you eat (and drink).
- Pick the healthiest protein.
- Get your fill of the right fats.
- Go for the greens (and reds, yellows, blues, and other hues).
- Choose brain-boosting carbohydrates.
- Say good-bye to sugar.
- Hydrate with H20.
- Flavor your food with smart herbs and spices.
2. Do brain-boosting physical activities
The following 4 types of exercise are great for your brain.
- Burst training—This involves 30- to 60-second bursts at go-for-broke intensity followed by a few minutes of lower-intensity exertion. For example, take a 30-45 minute walk every day. During the walk, take 4 or 5 1-minute periods to “burst” (walking or running as fast as you can), and walk at a normal pace between bursts.
- Strength training—The stronger you are as you age, the less likely you are to get Alzheimer’s disease.
- Coordination activities—Dancing, tennis, table tennis (the world’s best brain sport) and similar types of exercise boost the activity in the cerebellum, which is involved with both physical and thought coordination.
- Mindful exercise—Yoga, tai chi and other mindful exercises have been found to reduce anxiety and depression and increase focus and energy.
3. Limit Alcohol Intake
A study at Johns Hopkins found that people who drink every day have smaller brains, and when it comes to the brain, size matters! If you want a better brain, less is more. For people who want to drink, stick to no more than 2 to 4 normal-size drinks a week.
4. No Smoking (or Vaping) Anything!
Smoking increases the risk of dementia. Smoking is thought to cause dementia in the same way it contributes to vascular diseases: by bombarding the brain with hundreds of different toxins, increasing homocysteine (high levels trigger inflammation), accelerating blood vessel damage (which deprives your brain of oxygen and nutrients) and increasing inflammation and the particulate toxic load in your brain. Vaping is no safer, so ditch the e-cigarettes. And neither is smoking marijuana, which accelerates brain aging and decreases blood flow to the brain. Low blood flow is the #1 brain imaging predictor of Alzheimer’s disease, so avoid anything that reduces blood flow.
5. Focus on New Learning
The best mental exercises involve acquiring new knowledge and doing things you haven’t done before. However, understand that the parts of your brain that you use will grow, and the parts of your brain that you don’t use will atrophy, or shrink. Just doing crossword puzzles or Sudoku is not going to give you the full benefit you want. That’s like going to the gym, doing right bicep curls and then leaving. Here are some exercises to work out various brain regions:
- Prefrontal cortex exercises: crossword puzzles, Scrabble, chess
- Temporal lobe: learning to play a musical instrument, memorization
- Parietal lobe: Sudoku, juggling, dance
- Basal ganglia: balancing or synchronizing arm and leg movements
- Cerebellum: table tennis, tai chi, basketball
Your Genes are Not Your Destiny
In another study presented at the conference and published in JAMA, researchers found that adopting healthy lifestyle habits can reduce risk even in people who have a genetic predisposition for Alzheimer’s. This report showed that people at elevated risk for the disease could lower their risk of dementia by 32% by following a “favorable” lifestyle compared with those who had “unfavorable” everyday habits.
This research adds further proof that your genes are not your destiny and shatters the false belief that there’s nothing you can do to prevent Alzheimer’s. You can change your brain and decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Now is the Time to Rescue Your Memory
Based on the world’s largest brain imaging database—over 150,000 brain scans and growing—it is clear that Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia begin in the brain decades before any symptoms appear. Given the complexity of the illness and how early it begins altering the brain, we are likely never going to have a medicine that cures it. That’s why it’s so important to get serious about your brain health and your memory now.
If you or a loved one is suffering from memory issues, understand that there are many things you can do to prevent or reverse memory loss. At Amen Clinics, we use brain SPECT imaging as part of a comprehensive evaluation to help us develop a personalized treatment plan to prevent or reverse memory problems. Our Memory Rescue program has already helped many patients improve their memory.
Reach out today to speak with a specialist at 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.