It is true that we can’t ward off all the challenges that come with aging. But dementia and Alzheimer’s, which affect one in nine and one in three, respectively? We can increase our odds of avoiding these difficult, sad endings. It comes to lifestyle.
Furthermore, and interestingly, if you think about a range of other health issues that are on the rise—ones that also respond well to the following solutions—you realize there may just be a pattern. Depression, arthritis, stroke, heart disease. Each of these can be mitigated or avoided through a change in lifestyle that includes…
3 Powerhouses to Prevent Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Other Conditions On the Rise
In a recent print (not online) article at Psychology Today, Vitamin D (long thought to be just the calcium helper that’s good for your bones) has been revealed to play an important role in dementia and Alzheimer’s prevention. It blocks accumulation of the Alzheimer’s-causing amyloid-beta protein and directly protects cells in the hippocampus, which is that little part of the brain that performs big tasks like memory consolidation and assists you in location navigation. (Call it the GPS of your brain, that also commits to mind your new friend’s birthday or the new tea you’re going to want to buy for your love.)
As a bonus, Vitamin D is anti-inflammatory, prevents stroke, improves mood, helps neurons grow, and influences gene expression responsible for auto-immune disorders and heart disease.
Do you need any better reason to go to the beach and let the sun help your body make Vitamin D? (Sunscreen is problematic, which is thought to be a big reason that D deficiency is now prevalent, so try to hit the waves in the afternoon when you can take in the sun’s rays without a high risk of burning.)
If the beach isn’t quite within reach, take liquid Vitamin D, 4,000 IU a day.
I admit that I love black tea and have had to be wooed to drink green. But I’ve finally found one I love: Mighty Leaf Green Tea Tropical. So now I save my favored black teas as weekend afternoon specials.
Why let myself be wooed to the greens?
I can’t think of a better way to achieve improved working memory in my brain and also block that insidious amyloid-beta protein that would like to give me Alzheimer’s. Why not take advantage of something yummy that can result in a 54% reduction in dementia chances?
Of course, green tea also lifts mood, is anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory, prevents heart disease, etc., etc. For a list of 11 Amazing Benefits of Green Tea, click here. (And then go have a cup.)
I know, I know, it’s hard to get going. But it might just be worth finding a friend to walk with at least three times a week or planning a nightly living room “dance party” (sure, you can invite the cat) where you let yourself enjoy at least a half hour of moving to tunes. A friend of mine has even started using walking videos she swears by.
Find your sweet spot, and move with it, because it will not only produce chemicals that can make you happier, improve your learning, and make your heart healthy…but it will also, yes, decrease your chances of getting dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Says John Medina, author of Brain Rules, “Your lifetime risk for general dementia is literally cut in half if you participate in leisure-time physical activity.” Alzheimer’s is even more affected, he notes. Aerobic exercise lowers your odds of getting the disease, by more than 60 percent. Isn’t that stunning?
Similarly, John Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, notes that exercise causes the production of BDNF, a protein that promotes neuron growth. He asserts, “The body was designed to be pushed, and in pushing our bodies we push our brains too….as far as our brain is concerned, if we’re not moving, there’s no real need to learn anything.”
Like I said at the start, you may by now detect a pattern. If you are sitting in the dark, drinking soda, and vegging on the couch, you’re at risk body, soul, and mind.
Visualize this instead… sun, tea on the porch, and a stroll to top it off.
It’s, well, a no-brainer.
For detailed information on dementia causes, statistics, relationship to other diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and how lifestyle overall plays a larger part than genetics, see the Alzheimer’s Association 2014 Facts and Figures report.