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Six Strategies To Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

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Half of U.S. adults are concerned about developing Alzheimer’s according to a YouGov poll. That’s an incredibly high figure, but not so surprising when you realize almost one in three Americans have a family member with the disease.

Fortunately, as a new Alzheimer’s Association report shows, there are six things you can do to lower your risk factors for developing the disease. The most important risk factor, and one you can change starting right now, is your diet.

What foods can help you avoid an Alzheimer’s diagnosis? Let’s take a closer look…

#1 Alzheimer’s Risk-Lowering Strategy: Build a Strong Nutritional Foundation

A building may win architectural and design awards, but an earthquake will bring it crashing to the ground if it hasn’t been built on solid foundations. The human body is much the same. It needs to be built on firm foundations that come from getting a full quota of essential nutrients.

The best way to start is by eating grass-fed meat, fish, chicken, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Even when you’re eating a healthy diet, certain essential nutrients can still be in short supply, especially if you’re older. The most important Alzheimer’s-fighting nutrients include:

  • Minerals: Changes in farming practices over the decades mean there are fewer minerals in the soil than in the past. Shortages include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, and manganese. [1] Unless food has been grown using regenerative farming practices that prioritize soil health, a mineral supplement is strongly advised. Minerals bonded to amino acids are the most easily utilized by the body.
  • Vitamins: B complex vitamins are vital for healthy brain function, but deficiency is common. Likewise, Vitamin D deficiency is directly linked to dementia. Another vitally important vitamin-like essential nutrient needed by the brain is choline, which is also widely deficient in the diet. Since a multivitamin can slow memory loss by 60 percent, taking a daily supplement is a simple way to stave off cognitive decline.
  • Fats: At least 60 percent of the brain is fat, and the two essential fatty acids (EFAs), linoleic acid (omega 6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3), are critical for the development and maintenance of normal brain function. Deficiencies cause damage to neuronal development, cognition, and motor function. You can find healthy sources in fresh, unprocessed foods and fatty fish. Plant-based EFAs in an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of between 1:1 to 2½:1 are available in supplement form.
  • Oxygen: We get this life-giving gas for free, but it needs to be drawn into the lungs for optimum health. If your chest rises with an in-breath but not your abdomen, then it’s worth trying to learn to breathe correctly. As well as good breathing, exercise helps oxygenate the blood, iron is required for oxygen transport and storage, and linoleic acid (see below) is an oxygen magnet, drawing it into the cells. Some natural health doctors have demonstrated the power of oxygen through hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which improved Alzheimer’s symptoms and the effects of brain aging in human volunteers.
  • Water: Dehydration is common, especially as you age. That’s because hormonal signals that trigger thirst and motivate water intake become blunted. This can lead to poorer cognitive performance. [2] The National Academies of Medicine suggest that women and men over 50 consume at least three and four pints—about six to eight cups of fluid daily, respectively.

Perhaps most exciting, studies suggest that eating a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet can be especially helpful for those at genetic risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Genetics and Family History

You can’t do anything about the genes you inherit or your family history of Alzheimer's disease. Many genes increase (or decrease) the risk. The gene with the strongest impact on the development of Alzheimer’s is APOE-e4. Two-thirds of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. have either one or both copies of the gene (inherited from one or both parents.)

And having a parent with Alzheimer’s disease also increases your risk regardless of your APOE status. This suggests that non-genetic factors are also at play.

Inheriting both APOE-e4 copies and having a parent with the disease doesn’t mean you’ll inevitably develop Alzheimer’s once you hit your senior years. These are risk factors for the disease, not causes. We’ve reported recently on how an anti-inflammatory diet can help “turn off” genetic factors that are involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition to our food and supplement choices, there are many other ways to cut down the risk of Alzheimer’s.

5 More Risk-Lowering Strategies

  1. Keep physically active: This needn’t involve jogging around the streets or joining a gym. A daily walk is an excellent exercise for brain health and even doing mundane household chores will help prevent your brain from shrinking.
  2. Build cognitive reserve: Exercising the brain makes it more resilient to brain changes that come with aging. So challenge the brain with puzzles, crosswords, board and card games, etc., or learn a new skill.
  3. Get social: Social isolation is linked to poor cognitive functioning, poor memory, and even dementia so keep in touch with family, friends, and neighbors or develop new social contacts.
  4. Sleep well: Inadequate or poor-quality sleep hinders the removal of waste products and toxins from the brain, hampers blood flow, and interferes with brain activities that promote memory and attention. Do everything possible to create a conducive sleep environment to encourage sound sleep.
  5. Breathe clean air: Polluted air is linked to reduced brain volume, memory loss, and increased rates of dementia. Carry out strategies to reduce exposure to air pollution. One strategy that brightens the home is filling it with indoor plants.

Our Takeaway

Unfortunately, you can’t do anything about the biggest risk factor of all...

And that’s your age. Only one person in twenty aged 65 to 74 succumbs to Alzheimer’s. But this shoots up to one in seven for those aged 75 to 84 and a third of people aged 85 and above. [3]

However, we can add these latest research findings to the many studies that reveal that you don’t have to lose your memory, even though you’re getting older. By lowering your other risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease by making healthy lifestyle choices, science shows you can stop this memory-robbing disease from ruining your Golden years.

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