Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and more than 5 million Americans are living with it. While research is not yet conclusive, certain lifestyle choices, such as exercise and diet, may help support brain health and prevent Alzheimer’s.
Exercise helps prevent the development of Alzheimer’s or slows progression in people who have symptoms. Thirty minute workouts, 3-4 days a week, increase blood flow to the brain and gets the heart pumping.
2. The Mediterranean Diet
This diet includes fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, olive oil, nuts, legumes, fish, and moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, dairy, red wine, and red meat. It’s been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Quality sleep enhances connections between brain cells, preserving important functions such as memory. Aim for 7-8 hours per night.
4. Keep an Active Mind
Mental exercises help brain cells establish important connections vital to memory. Reading, writing letters, or learning a new language gives your mind a healthy workout.
5. Connect Socially
In a recent study of seniors 75 and up, those who engaged in more physical/mental activity and remained socially engaged had a lower incidence of dementia. Part-time jobs and volunteering are great ways to bond.
6. Maintain a Healthy Weight
There’s a strong link between body weight and memory loss. Studies of middle-aged adults revealed that obese subjects were twice as likely to develop dementia symptoms later in life.
7. Quit Smoking and Drinking
Smoking and heavy drinking are two of the most preventable risk factors for Alzheimer’s. Smoking increases odds for those over 65 by nearly 79%, but the combination of these two behaviors reduces the age of Alzheimer’s onset by 6-7 years.
8. Control High Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, and Diabetes
Intake of saturated fats and LDL (the harmful type of cholesterol) can clog arteries and deprive the brain of needed oxygen. Opt for healthy cooking oils and try baking or grilling instead of frying.
9. Avoid Head Injuries
Severe brain injuries have been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s later in life, so protect yourself. Use a seatbelt in the car and wear protective headgear when bicycling.
Folic acid, vitamins B12, D, E, and magnesium preserve and improve brain health and may lower risk for developing dementia. Halibut, salmon, mackerel, and tuna are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and help protect brain cells from the aging process.