The new year brings promise, hope and often a commitment to a healthier lifestyle. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but mounting research is showing us that our everyday lifestyle choices are the most important factors when it comes to Alzheimer’s prevention.
Here are 15 things you can do in 2015 to prevent Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is well on its way to hit epidemic proportions. In 2014, nearly 36 million people worldwide had Alzheimer’s or a related dementia and only about 25% of people with Alzheimer’s had been diagnosed.
It’s predicted that when the first wave of baby boomers reach the age of 85 in 2031, more than 3 million people over the age of 85 will have Alzheimer’s. In addition to the emotional devastation of memory loss, the disease can cause financial ruin. The cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s in the United States is estimated to be $220 billion per year, making it the most expensive disease.
Although the numbers are shocking, they are not hopeless. As researchers press forward searching for a cure, they encourage people at risk to make positive lifestyle changes to prevent the disease from gaining a foothold. As of now, prevention is the cure for Alzheimer’s.
Here are 15 things you can do to better your brain health and work to prevent Alzheimer’s in the new year:
1. Learn a second (or third, or fourth) language.
Aside from raising cultural awareness and expanding cultural horizons, adding another language to your vocabulary may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by 4 years.
2. Drink raw fruit and vegetable juices.
A 2006 study from Vanderbilt University found that drinking fruit and vegetable juices more than three times a week could cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 76%.
3. Add a vitamin K supplement to your diet.
Known as “the forgotten vitamin,” vitamin K plays a crucial role in anti-aging and may prevent Alzheimer’s. Because vitamin K is not found in most multivitamins many people consume it through green leafy vegetables or a vitamin K supplement.
4. Reduce stress.
Many studies have linked anxiety with the development of Alzheimer’s, especially in people who are already at risk for the disease. A recent study showed that people who had mild cognitive impairment and reported high levels of anxiety were 135% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
5. Commit to regular exercise.
Regular exercise may preserve hippocampal volume which is the first part of the brain attacked by Alzheimer’s. Good exercise choices including walking briskly, dancing, swimming, cycling and even gardening.
6. Laugh more.
Researchers have found that laughter is more than good for the soul. Playing, laughing, and being active helps to engage the brain, grow new brain cells, and ultimately prevent Alzheimer’s.
7. Run 15 miles per week.
Logging at least 15 miles per week may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by 40% according to a new study.
8. Consume more fruits.
A study completed early in 2014 showed that fruits containing a compound called fisetin has Alzheimer’s fighting properties. Commonly found in strawberries and mangos, fisetin has anti-inflammatory properties that effectively combated the onset of Alzheimer’s in mice.
9. Make time for meditation.
Quieting your mind may be more important than you might think in Alzheimer’s prevention. A study from 2013 showed that people who performed meditation and yoga had less brain atrophy than those who did not. Meditation can increase protective tissue in the brain, can help seniors feel less stressed and reduces the hormone cortisol, which has been known to increase the risk of developing dementia.
10. Eat more fish.
Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids which can control blood clotting, build cell membranes in the brain, protect against heart disease, protect against brain atrophy and slow Alzheimer’s and dementia.
11. Quit smoking.
A report from October 2014 from the World Health Organization found that smokers have a 45% higher risk of developing dementia than non-smokers and also claimed that 14% of all dementia cases could possibly be attributed to smoking.
12. Adopt a Mediterranean diet.
Following a Mediterranean diet high in fish, chicken, olive oil and other foods high in omega-3s, may improve cognition and lower the risk of cognitive decline.
13. Learn early Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Early detection is the key to slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s. Learning and recognizing symptoms as they first appear means that more treatment options are available. Early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s can include losing track of dates, vision problems and trouble completing familiar tasks.
14. Sleep better.
Lack of sleep has been linked to a myriad of health problems including stress and increased cortisol, both of which are risk factors for Alzheimer’s. In addition, a waste-draining system that clears the brain of beta-amyloid is more active while we sleep.
15. Limit sugar intake.
Diabetes has been closely linked to Alzheimer’s with some researchers even calling the disease a third type of diabetes. Manage sugar intake and blood sugar levels to keep your brain healthy.
Do you have a resolution to reduce your risk of dementia this year? What will you do to prevent Alzheimer’s in 2015? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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