How to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease ?

November 12, 2012

How to Avoid Alzheimer

Alzheimer’s disease is becoming the focus of many different aspects of research. Although the pharmaceutical companies are tending towards medicinal answers there is a growing awareness that lifestyle changes have their part to play in trying to prevent, or at least delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Some people even speculate that lifestyle changes may in the future be a factor in reversing the effects of the condition.

Many areas are being investigated to see what role they play. Diet, mineral supplements, taking regular physical exercise, remaining mentally active and vitamin supplements are all being investigated in addition to pharmaceutical drugs.

Presently Alzheimer’s disease is incurable but research is leading experts to believe that delaying the onset, or preventing Alzheimer’s disease is possible.

Warachal Faison, MD, works on the Alzheimer’s research and clinical programs at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, N.C.. He is also a member of the medical advisory board of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, and he points out that some areas cannot be altered however many areas of one’s life can be changed. He says, “The problem with Alzheimer’s is that there are a number of risk factors that may be involved. Some of these factors, such as age or genetics, simply can’t be controlled. But there is ongoing research investigating other areas including, but not limited to, antioxidants such as vitamin E, estrogen, exercise, omega-3 fatty acids, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Some of the research in these areas is quite compelling”.

Many researchers suspect that strategies relating to lifestyle can be successful in reducing the risk of developing, or delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers also believe that certain factors throughout life can increase the possibility that someone will develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Some of the common risks, according to the researchers include what is known as early life risk factors. These can be infections in childhood, the number of years someone has been obese or if they grew up under nourished or if they were exposed to pesticides as a child. For many people it is too late to do anything to mitigate these risks. However for younger people ensuring a healthy diet and good lifestyle could reduce the risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

If you have children then now is the time to ensure that they have a healthy environment to grow up in and ensure that scheduled doctor’s visits do take place.

Another risk factor is head trauma. Any brain injury earlier in life increases your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease according to research. Ensure that you and your family take precautions whenever necessary, wear cycling helmets, use protective clothing when skiing and ensure that everybody is safely belted into your vehicle especially the children who should have their own safety seats and harnesses.

Dr. Faison points out that what is beneficial for the heart is almost certainly good for the brain. He says “In my experience, what is good for the heart is good for the brain. Therefore, I recommend that people exercise regularly, eat healthy, control diabetes, lower cholesterol, and lower high blood pressure”. It has been identified that the brain and the heart are both susceptible to high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, stress and not exercising enough so these are the areas to address when trying to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Diet and nutrition are becoming more and more spoken about as a way to negate the risks and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Although an area of much research few recommendations have come from the studies because there have been some structural issues relating to the association between diet and Alzheimer’s disease.

When taking some vitamins with the aim of counteracting one problem then we must be careful that we do not leave ourselves open to other problems. Previously it was advocated that vitamin E supplements helped, however longer term research, some of it over a 10 year follow up period, showed no benefit in cognitive behavior. But it did identify a rise in the risk of death if vitamin E supplements were taken regularly.

Further research has indicated that vitamin B6, B12 and vitamin B folate supplements may reduce the risk of dementia. But yet again some of these studies did not stand up to academic scrutiny by peers.

Researchers do agree that if the food is healthy for the heart then it is good for the brain too. Eating a well balanced diet with reasonable sized portions is advised. Make sure that the foods have lots of antioxidants, so fruit, vegetables, oily fish, nuts and olive oil are in, and sugary foods and foods high in saturated fat are out.

In addition to eating a healthy diet staying active is vitally important. It is now believed that remaining active in all areas is very important. By being physically, mentally and socially active you have enhanced your chances of avoiding the condition significantly. Faison sums up all the positive aspects of activity by saying, “It’s important to engage in mental-boosting activities as well as social activities. Quite frankly, it would not surprise me if regular physical exercise proves to be one of the key factors in Alzheimer’s prevention”.

If you are of a social nature and like to do puzzles and exercise regularly then you are reducing your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Even though the advances in research when dealing with Alzheimer’s disease have been considerable the best advice or recommendation is still to use your common sense. Eat healthily, do exercise, remain active on all levels, socially, mentally and physically and live a good life. Lisa Gwyther, MSW, is the director of the family support program at Duke University Medical Center, in Durham, N.C, and her advice is, “Eat a healthy diet, get control of risk factors for heart disease and stroke, get plenty of exercise, and stay active socially and mentally. Reduce your stress levels and try to be flexible. A positive outlook is part of a good approach to Alzheimer’s prevention”.

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