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Thursday, September 10, 2015

25 Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's

25 Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's 

Alzheimer’s strikes fear in all of us. The thought of losing your mind as  you grow older is terrifying and made worse by the fact that, before now,  there appeared to be little we could do to slow down or avoid Alzheimer’s,  the most common form of dementia. 

Today, research has found many factors that raise or diminish the risk of  Alzheimer's disease. Following these tips, you could slash your chances of  developing the disease: 

1. Check out your ankle 
Low blood flow in your foot is a clue to trouble in your brain and a simple  test can reveal its cognitive state and your likelihood of stroke and  dementia. The theory is that the health of your blood vessels is similar  throughout the body. The degree of clogged arteries and blood flow in the  feet can suggest atherosclerosis in cerebral blood vessels. Ask your doctor  for an ankle-brachial index (ABI) test which involves an ultrasound device  and a blood pressure cuff that compares blood pressure in your ankle with  that in your arm. To remedy any impairment of blood flow your GP may advise  stepped-up exercise or a change in diet/medication.

2. Antioxidant-rich foods 
Certain foods infuse your brain with antioxidants that can slow memory  decline and help prevent Alzheimer’s. All fruit and vegetables are good but  top of the list are black raspberries, elderberries, raisins and  blueberries. 

3. Beware of bad fats 
The type of fat you eat changes your brain’s functioning for better or 
worse. Stay away from saturated fats which strangle brain cells causing  them to become inefficient. Buy low fat or fat-free dairy products  including milk, cheese and ice cream. Cut down on deep-fried foods. 

4. Chocolate Treat 
Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, has sky-high concentrations of  antioxidants called flavanols, which possess strong heart and  brain-protecting properties. Drinking cocoa increases blood flow to the  brain. Cocoa powder has twice as many flavanols as dark chocolate which has  twice a many as milk chocolate. White chocolate has zero.

5. Grow a bigger brain 
Your brain starts to shrink when you reach 30 or 40 so it takes longer to  learn. However scientists now believe you can increase the size of your  brain through the act of learning. Try studying, learning new things or  broadening your circle of friends for stimulation. 

6. The Estrogen Evidence 
Sixty eight per cent of Alzheimer’s patients are women, possibly as midway  through life they lose the protection of the hormone estrogen which boosts  memory. Unless your GP says otherwise, start taking estrogen immediately at  the time of menopause – starting any later risks dementia and strokes. 

7. Raise good cholesterol 
It’s well known that having high good-type HDL blood cholesterol protects  you from heart disease. But it can also save your brain. Researchers claim  it blocks sticky stuff that destroys brain cells and acts as an  anti-inflammatory to lessen brain damage. Ways to ramp up good cholesterol  include exercise, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol and losing weight. 

8. Google something 
Doing an internet search can stimulate ageing brains even more than reading  a book.And MRI scans show that savvy surfers have twice as many sparks of brain  activity as novices. Go online to search for information, things to buy or  games to play. Although it’s not known how much it will benefit your brain,  it’s better than passive pursuits.

9. The ApoE4 gene 
One in four of you reading this has a specific genetic time bomb that makes  you 3 to 10 times more susceptible to developing late-onset Alzheimer’s.  The gene is called apolipoprotein E4. If you inherit a single variant of  ApoE4 from one parent, your Alzheimer’s risk triples. If you inherit a  double dose from both parents, your risk rises by 10 times. Ask your doctor  about a DNA test to reveal your ApoE4 geno type. 

10. Say yes to coffee 
Coffee is emerging as a tonic for the ageing brain. It is 
anti-inflammatory, helps block the ill effects of cholesterol in the brain  and cuts the risks of stroke, depression and diabetes, all promoters of  dementia. It is also high in antioxidants and caffeine which stop neuronal  death and lessen diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes that bring on  dementia. For most people, a moderate daily intake of coffee, two to four  cups, won’t hurt and may help. 

11. Dangers of underweight 
Unexplained weight loss after age 60 or so may be a sign of Alzheimer’s. A  study showed that women with the disease started losing weight at least 10  years before dementia was diagnosed. Among women of equal weight, those who  went on to develop dementia slowly became thinner over three decades and,  when diagnosed, weighed an average 12 lbs less that women who were free of  Alzheimer’s. Talk to your doctor about unexplained weight loss after 60. 

12. Drink wine 
A daily glass of wine may help delay dementia. Research says that alcohol  is an anti-inflammatory and raises good cholesterol which helps ward off  dementia. High antioxidants in red wine give it additional anti-dementia  clout. Such antioxidants act as artery relaxants, dilating blood vessels  and increasing blood flow which encourages cognitive functioning. 

13. Know the early signs 
Memory problems are not the first clue. You may notice a decline in depth  perception, for example you reach to pick up a glass of water and miss it.  Or you misjudge the distance in walking across a street. 
Doing a jigsaw puzzle or reading a map may also be confusing. Losing your  sense of smell can also be an early clue, as well as asking the same  question repeatedly or misplacing belongings in odd places (like putting  keys in the fridge). Be aware of memory problems as the earlier the signs  are spotted, the more successful lifestyle changes and medications are  likely to be.

14. A Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet, no matter where you live, can help save your brain  from memory deterioration and dementia. Studies consistently find that what  the Greeks and Italians eat is truly brain food. Following this diet – rich  in green leafy vegetables, fish, fruits, nuts, legumes, olive oil and a  little vino – can cut your chances of Alzheimer’s by nearly half. Rather  than depending on just one food or a few nutrients, it is a rich menu of  many complex brain benefactors, including an array of antioxidants, which  shield brain cells from oxidative damage.

15. Middle Age Obesity
Your brain cares if you are fat. A study showed obese people had 8% less  brain tissue and overweight people had 4% less brain tissue than people of  average  weight, which according to some scientists hugely increases the  risk of Alzheimer’s. Moreover, brain shrinkage occurred in areas of the  brain targeted by Alzheimer’s, and which are critical for planning, long-term  memory, attention and executive functions, and control of movement.  Tackle signs of rising weight early, when you are young or middle-aged.  Oddly, being obese after the age of 70 does not raise the risk of  Alzheimer’s but that doesn’t mean you should neglect exercise as it is the  best way of stimulating cognitive functioning and may delay the onset of  Alzheimer’s at any age.

16. Get a good night’s sleep
A lack of sleep is toxic to brain cells. Sleep has surprising powers to  protect your brain against memory loss and Alzheimer’s. It is a wonder drug  that helps manipulate levels of the dreaded brain toxin peptide  beta-amyloid, a prime instigator of Alzheimer’s, which according to one  scientist puts you at accelerated risk. Research has also found that  sleeping an average of five hours or less a night is linked to large  increases in dangerous visceral abdominal fat, which can cause diabetes and  obesity that can lead to Alzheimer’s. Take naps and seek treatment for  sleep disorders.

17. Have an extended social circle
Studying the brain of a highly sociable 90-year-old woman who died from  Alzheimer’s, researchers in Chicago found that having a large social  network provided her with strong “cognitive reserve” that enabled her brain  to not realize she had Alzheimer’s. Why this happens is a mystery but  interacting with friends and family seems to make the brain more efficient.  It finds alternative routes of communication to bypass broken connections  left by Alzheimer’s. So see friends and family often and expand your social  network. The stronger the brain reserve you build through life, the more  likely you are to stave off Alzheimer’s symptoms.

18. Deal with stress
When you are under stress, your body pours out hormones called  corticosteroids, which can save you in a crisis. But persistent stress  reactions triggered by everyday events like work frustration, traffic and  financial worries can be dangerous. Over time, it can destroy brain cells  and suppress the growth of new ones, actually shrinking your brain. Sudden  traumatic events like the death of a loved one or a life-changing event  like retirement can leave a hangover of severe psychological stress that  precedes dementia. Be aware that chronic stress can increase older people’s  vulnerability to memory decline and dementia. Seek professional advice.  Antidepressants, counselling, relaxation techniques and other forms of  therapy may head off stress-related memory loss if treated early.

19. Take care of your teeth 
Bad gums may poison your brain. People with tooth and gum disease tend to  score lower in memory and  cognition tests, according to US dental  researchers who found that infection responsible for gum disease gives  off inflammatory  byproducts that travel to areas of the brain involved in memory loss.  Consequently, brushing, flossing and preventing gum disease may help keep  your gums and teeth healthy but also your memory sharper. In another study,  older people with the most severe gingivitis – inflamed gums – were two to  three times more likely to show signs of impaired memory and cognition than  those with the least.

20. Get enough Vitamin B12
As you age, blood levels of vitamin B12 go down and the chance of  Alzheimer’s goes up. Your ability to absorb it from foods diminishes in  middle age, setting the stage for brain degeneration years later.  Researchers at Oxford University found that a brain running low on B12  actually shrinks and a shortage can lead to brain atrophy by ripping away,  myelin, a fatty protective sheath around neurons. It can also trigger  inflammation, another destroyer of brain cells. Take 500 to 1000mcg of  vitamin B12 daily after the age of 40. If you or an older family member has  unexplained memory loss, fatigue or signs of dementia, be sure to get  tested for vitamin B12 deficiency by your GP.

21. Vinegar in everything
There is plenty of evidence that  vinegar sinks risk factors that may lead  to memory decline, namely high blood sugar, insulin resistance, diabetes  and pre-diabetes and weight gain. Researchers in Phoenix, Arizona, have  noted in studies of humans and animals that the acidic stuff packs potent  glucose-lowering effects. Studies have also found it can curb appetite and  food intake, helping prevent weight gain and obesity, which are associated  with diabetes, accelerated dementia and memory loss. Pour on the vinegar –  add it to salad dressings, eat it by the spoonful, even mix it into a glass  of drinking water. Any type of vinegar works.

22. Have your eyes checked
If you preserve good or excellent vision as you age, your chances of  developing dementia drop by an astonishing 63%. And if it’s poor, just  visiting an optician for an eye test and possible treatment at least once  in later life cuts your dementia odds by about the same amount. Exactly how  vision problems promote dementia is not clear but impaired vision makes it  difficult to participate in mental and physical activities such as reading  and exercising, as well as social activities, all believed to delay  cognitive decline. Be aware that your eyes reflect and influence how your  brain is functioning, especially as you age. Don’t tolerate poor vision as  often it can be corrected.

23. Eat curry or take curcumin pills
Curry powder contains the yellow-orange spice turmeric, packed withcurcumin  < >, a component reported to  stall memory decline. One study showed elderly Indians who ate even modest  amounts of curry did better in cognitive tests. Curcumin works by blocking  the build-up of Alzheimer’s-inducing amyloid plaques (deposits found in the  brains of sufferers) then nibbles away at existing plaques to slow  cognitive decline.  It is recommended to eat two or three curries a week, and make it a yellow  curry. Otherwise, sprinkle the spices on your food. Read more about the  many benefits of Curcumin.

24. diabetes control
Having type 2 diabetes makes you more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s. Studies  show it may double or triple your risk and the earlier diabetes takes hold,  the higher the odds of dementia. Some experts refer to Alzheimer’s as  “diabetes of the brain”. The two disorders have similar causes – obesity,  high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high fat and high sugar diets, low  physical activity as well as high blood sugar. In short, diabetes can  deliver a double whammy to the brain, destroying neurons and increasing  inflammation. Do everything possible to keep blood sugar levels low and  stick to a low-saturated-fat diet and regular exercise.

25. Drink more tea
Evidence suggests that tea stalls the cognitive loss that precedes  Alzheimer’s and that the more tea you drink, the sharper your ageing memory  is. Tea’s secret is no mystery. The leaves are packed with compounds able  to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and block neuronal damage.  One particular green tea antioxidant can block the toxicity of  beta-amyloid, which kills brain cells. Make a point of drinking black and  green tea. Don’t add milk, it can reduce tea’s antioxidant activity by 25%