It is hard not to be frustrated that Alzheimer’s is a terminal disease. It is easy to feel helpless and hopeless, but that is not productive. We need to grasp the reins and do everything within our power to take care of those who have the disease, find effective treatment, and find a cure. It is also a major goal to prevent Alzheimer’s. Until an immunization is perfected, research has given us tools to reduce our chances of developing Alzheimer’s, or possibly delay the onset.
Dr. Rudi Tanzi recommends lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease as much as 60%. He says the word shield can be used to remind you of healthy habits that can help keep your body and brain healthy.The word shield can be used to remind you of healthy habits that can help keep your body and brain healthy.
Sleep. We need our zzz’s to function. The rule of thumb used to be eight hours, but in today’s world, we don’t go to bed at dark and get up at daylight. Shift workers may have a difficult time to get a good “days” sleep. When our internal circadian clock gets out of whack (not the medical term!) the brain doesn’t go through its cycle to wash away the plagues that want to clog up our brains.
Handle stress. I don’t want to cause stress by mentioning how detrimental to a person’s health stress is. Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which can damage brain cells and cause inflammation. Recent studies indicate that brain inflammation is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. We can’t avoid stress; we can only manage it.
Interact with friends. Being socially active is your “friend” when fighting Alzheimer’s disease. By socially, I’m not talking Facebook friends who may be more annoying than helpful. I’m talking about friends who have your back and bring joy into your life. If that happens to be your Facebook friends, then by all means, interact to your heart’s content. Loneliness and isolation increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Exercise. We all know the benefits of exercise. Exercise increases energy level, reduces stress, and helps us maintain a healthier body and brain. Yes, exercise helps your brain. It increases the blood flow in the brain and helps cognition. Find a physical activity you enjoy that fits your physical condition. Exercise with friends to double your fight against Alzheimer’s disease!
Learn new things. If you are like me, you want to learn new things. I learned to play the ukulele about two years ago and now I’ve joined the family band. We play music once a month in three different nursing homes. Learning new things create new synapses in your brain. How cool is that? Having fun and helping my brain.
Diet. No, don’t go on a crash diet! Yo-yo dieting is bad, bad, bad for your health. Your mama knew what she was talking about when she told you to eat your veggies. A Mediterranean type diet reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, fish, and olive oil is good for your heart and your brain. So, instead of starving yourself, feed your brain!
If we do all these things are we guaranteed not to develop Alzheimer’s? The short answer is no. If you wear a seatbelt, it does not guarantee that you will not be injured or killed in an auto accident, but it does increase your chances of survival. If you exercise and lower cholesterol, it doesn’t mean you will not have heart disease, but it lowers your risk.
Life doesn’t come with a guarantee warding off ugly diseases, but use your SHIELD for the best defense against Alzheimer’s disease.
source: Tanzi, Dr. Rudi, NBC Nightly News, July 16, 2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgkJWQkngAw
Copyright © July 2019 by L.S. Fisher