Today’s topic is quite a serious one, and one that is quite close to my heart, and to the hearts’ of my family. My stepfather lost his mother to Alzheimer’s disease last year, and my stepmom’s mother is currently in a nursing home suffering with the same disease. This post is dedicated to those incredible ladies.
Alzheimer’s disease is a genetically inherited disease, so there is a chance that both of my step-parents could develop the condition later in life if they don’t take steps to help it’s prevention. I’m sure many others of you are in a similar circumstance, whether your parents, grandparents, or those of someone close to you are dealing with this awful disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, usually diagnosed later in life, which progressively worsens, eventually leading to death. The patient starts by losing their memories, which leads to forgetting how to do basic everyday activities, like eating and bathing, and eventually ends when the body “forgets” how to do basic life-sustaining functions, like breathing. Not something that you want to go through, or watch anyone that you love go through.
As of yet there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but thank God, it has been discovered that genetics are not a death sentence, and there are a number of ways to help prevent the onset of this horrible disease. In fact, you may be surprised at how similar a lifestyle for a healthy brain is to a lifestyle for a healthy heart.
+ Healthy Diet
Antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids are the most important dietary factors in preventing Alzheimer’s. To get plenty of antioxidants, drink plenty of green tea, and eat a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetable. The brighter (or darker) the more the food has to offer you. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts.
Another important dietary consideration is keeping your blood sugar regulated throughout the day. The easiest way to do this is to eat small meals throughout the day, ensuring that your blood sugar doesn’t dip down too low between meals. In the other end, try to avoid sugar, and other foods with a high glycemic index, like white bread, pasta, white rice, potatoes, and processed foods.
Supplements recommended for those at risk for Alzheimer’s include vitamin B12, vitamin D, folic acid, magnesium, and omega-3s.
Getting your body moving daily not only helps you burn fat and speed up your metabolism, it also helps pump blood through your body, including to your brain. By getting a adequate supply of blood to your brain through exercise, you can actually cut your risk of Alzheimer’s by 50%!
It’s recommended that you exercise at least five days a week, including cardio, weight training, and exercise that helps with balance and coordination, such as yoga or Tai Chi.
+ Quit Your Bad Habits
Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol are two huge risk factors for Alzheimer’s, as well as for most other diseases. Coffee is also up there on the list. Sorry, guys!
+ Keep Your Stress Under Control
Did you know that stress actually causes changes in your brain? It can actually shrink the hippocampus, your memory center, and can affect the growth of nerve cells. It can also stop glucose from entering your brain cells, which can impact your ability to learn and process new information. The more stressed out you are, the more chance you have of short-term memory loss. No good.
Keep you stress in check by reminding yourself to breathe deeply throughout the day, bring meditation and yoga into your daily life, and develop a spiritual practice that resonates with you. Also, spending time in nature or with a pet can also be very relaxing for most people.
+ Exercise Your Brain
Keep those neurons in your brain firing, by working out your brain. You’re already on the right track, because reading blogs (aka learning new information) is one of the best ways to keep your brain in good working condition. Also, all those crossword puzzles and sudoku puzzles that you’ve teased your mom about doing (okay, that I’ve teased my mom about), are actually a great way to workout your brain. Anything that takes your brain away from it’s usual patterns is helping you to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Other examples of brain exercises are writing, board games, memorization,
+ Get Enough Sleep
When you don’t get enough sleep you brain’s ability to think, learn, problem-solve, process, store, recall are impaired. Over time, lack of sleep can lead to increased risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Make it a priority to get a comfortable amount of sleep every night, probably somewhere around eight hours.
+ Be Social
Did you know that your brain thrives on socialization as much as you do? People who lead more active social lives actually tend to do better on memory and cognition tests. Reach out to the family and friends you have, or make some new ones through work, volunteering, clubs, your community center, the gym, blogs, your neighborhood, etc. Get out of the house and get involved in activities that will keep you active, socially, mentally, and physically.
Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t have to be something that you fear idly. You can take charge of your life and your future by following these preventative tips. I pray that you and your loved ones go untouched by this horrible degenerative disease.
Affirmation of the Day: I am in charge of my own health and my own future.