What do we already know about preventing Alzheimer's Disease? It's first important to really understand what Alzheimer's Disease is. Alzheimer's is an "age related brain disease the gradually destroys a person's memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks" (N.I.A).
There are various risk factors for development Alzheimer's Disease. These include: age, genetics, environment, and lifestyle. If there are so many different factors, what can be done to prevent the disease?
Is physical activity and exercise the answer?
Studies on physical activity and exercise may suggest that maintaining and active lifestyle could lower your risk for developing Alzheimer's. According to these studies, exercise increases "both the number of small blood vessels that supply blood to the brain and the number of connections between nerve cells" (N.I.A). Exercise has also been proven to increase a vital protein the part of the brain the is linked to memory and learning. Maintaining physical activity through aging could be one factor in maintaining strong brain functions and connectivity.
What about diet?
Studies have shown that there are specific foods that do increase brain health, and, in fact, there are numerous foods that can be detrimental to your cognition. People who maintain diets that include various fruits, vegetables, and whole grains had a significantly lower risk for developing Alzheimer's than people who's diets mainly consisted of saturated fats and refined sugars. Omega-3 fatty acids and other vitamins and minerals are key additions to be made to a diet for a healthy, well-functioning brain.
Do any other chronic diseases play a roll?
They might. In fact, "age-related diseases and conditions - such as vascular disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes - may increase the risk of Alzheimer's and cognitive decline" (N.I.A). Studies are still being done to show exactly what the connection is between the two diseases, but one thing is apparent, there is some relationship between the various diseases. Many of these could be caused by lifestyle factors such as unhealthy diet, poor physical activity, or high levels of stress.
How important is keeping my brain active?
Staying cognitively active throughout life could be a valuable way to maintain brain health in your later years. It's important to not only keep yourself intellectually stimulated, but also socially engaged. People who continued to learn, play brain games, or even maintain strong social circles had a lower chance of developing Alzheimer's Disease. Continue doing activities such as reading the "newspaper, playing puzzle games, or visiting museums" (N.I.A) to keep your brain stimulated.
There are various connections to what may be causing Alzheimer's Disease in older individuals. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying active - physically, mentally, and socially- may be the key to preventing Alzheimer's Disease.
2012. Preventing Alzheimer's Disease: What Do We Know? National Institute on Aging. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Publication No. 12-5503.