While there are some Alzheimer’s risk factors, such as age and a family history of Alzheimer’s disease that cannot be changed, there are many things you can do to reduce your chances of getting the disease. Here are seven easy ways to slow down or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
#1 Eat fish at least twice a week or take a fish or flax oil supplement
Omega-3, found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel as well as flax oil and spinach, has been found to prevent and slow the build up of plaques in the brain. In a study of mice, those fed diets high in DHA (a type of omega-3) had a 40% lower incidence of brain plaques and up to 70% less amyloid protein in their brains (a precursor to plaques).
A 2003 study by researchers from the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago, found that individuals who consumed at least one serving of fish a week were 60% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who rarely or never ate fish.
#2 Add the spice Turmeric to your diet
Studies have shown that in some Indian villages that consume high amounts of turmeric, the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is remarkably low, in some cases less affecting less than 1% of people over the age of 65 compared to around 10% of Americans over 65.
A study at the University of California found that rats feed high Turmeric diets had less than half the number of brain plaques compared to the non-turmeric fed mice.
#3 Exercise your brain by doing activities such as playing card games, doing crossword puzzles, and reading books
Stimulating your brain can increase neuron connections and stimulate brain cell production. In an American study of over 700 people it was found that those who performed brain stimulating activities regularly were up to 2.6 times less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
#4 Avoid head injuries
Research has suggested repetitive head injury may be a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease in later life. Although human studies have been scarce, there are biologically plausible mechanisms linking Alzheimer’s and head injury. A 2002 study in mice using a transgenic model of Alzheimer’s disease, found that mild brain trauma accelerated beta-amyloid deposition and lipid peroxidation in the mice, as well as increasing cogntivie impairment.
#5 Take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as aspirin or naproxen
NSAID’s have been shown to reduce Alzheimer’s risk, in one study of around 16,000 patients, Alzheimer’s risk was reduced by as much as 73%. Long term use of NSAID’s does have some adverse effects however, such as an increased risk of gastric bleeding, so a NSAID plan should only be taken up after consultation with a doctor.
#6 Keep the heart healthy
Research has shown a link between cardiovascular health and brain health. Factors that benefit the heart may therefore also help reduce Alzheimer’s risk, these include a healthy diet that is low in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats, regular exercise, reducing blood pressure, and maintaining a healthy weight.
This graph shows how the risk of developing dementia increases when cardiovascular risk factors are present in mid-life. Individuals with the 3 cardiovascular risk factors: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity, had more than 6 times the odds of developing dementia in later life compared to people with none of the risk factors. Data is from the Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging, and Dementia (CAIDE) study.
#7 Keep stress levels in check and avoid depression
Prolonged stress can lead to an increase in levels of amyloid protein in the brain, a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. A study on mice showed a 42% increase in amyloid peptide fluid in the brains of stressed mice. Likewise depression has been linked to an increase in dementia rates amongst older people.
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