Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How to Postpone Alzheimers and Dementia




As if we don't have enough problems to worry about when we start planning our retirement, most of us also wonder if we will still have fully functioning brains as we age. Dementia, including diseases like Alzheimers, is a very real health concern.

I wanted to pass on this information that I picked up from the website RealAge. com. It is from a September, 2011 article entitled "7 Ways to Prevent Alzheimer's."

Before I reveal their suggestions, it is important for people to realize that there is currently no way to guarantee that doing these things will actually permanently prevent Alzheimers. However, some medical researchers seem to believe that about half of all cases could at least be postponed. As far as I'm concerned, these are facts that are worth knowing about. Below are the actions that Real Age recommends we all take for better brain health.

How to Postpone Dementia

1. Don't smoke. That's one habit I don't have. For those of you who do, this is one more reason to throw that pack away!  Smokers have more than twice the incidence of dementia!

2. Get exercise. According to Real Age, taking a daily walk can keep your brain from shrinking, because it increases the blood flow throughout your body, including to your brain. Who knew??  Of course, walking is also good for other aspects of our health, as well.

3. Keep your blood pressure low. High blood pressure is related to Alzheimers. One food they recommend is watermelon. Apparently, it is very effective at lowering blood pressure. That's wonderful, since it is one of my favorite summer fruits!  Some people may also need to take blood pressure medication.  It if enables you to think more clearly as you age, you may seriously want to consider medication if your blood pressure is high.

4. Get a good night's sleep. This suggestion was a bit more complicated. According to Real Age, if you don't sleep enough, you increase the chances that you will get type 2 diabetes, and diabetes is related Alzheimers. I think this suggestion should have been to simply live a lifestyle that reduces your chances of getting diabetes!  However, even outside of the diabetes link, I have read other reports that suggest that people who have the best quality sleep also are less likely to develop dementia.

5. Go outside. This suggestion seems simple enough. Apparently, when you spend time outside you are less likely to feel depressed, and depression is linked to Alzheimers. (It seems to me that this is one more reason to live somewhere that has mild winters!)

6. Keep learning. Medical researchers have discovered that it is especially beneficial to learn a new language, although any type of learning seems to be beneficial. French classes, anyone?  If you don't want to learn a new language, you might consider music lessons, learning to play a new game or developing other challenging skills.

7. Lose weight. I knew that one would show up. I keep trying, but I am sure that I am going to take a few extra pounds to my grave with me! However, perhaps the fear of not being able to remember the names of my loved ones will make a difference. I'll keep trying ... and I suggest that other people do, too.  However, there is also research that it is better not to be underweight.  It seems that the best situation is to be at your ideal weight or slightly more than that.

In the comment section of the Real Age article, readers made their own suggestions. One person suggested that a glass of red wine once in a while could help our brains. Other people suggested adding tumeric to your food and tea. Tumeric is found in curry powder in the U.S.

The Doctor Oz television show on ABC also did a special about Alzheimers on September 21, 2011. He had as his guests Dr. Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra. First, he showed slices of a brain with Alzheimers, and you could actually see the holes in the brain. Then, Dr. Oz and his guests mentioned some supplements they use to ward off Alzheimers. Among the products they suggested were: Vitamin D, the herb Ginko, Phosphatidylsirene (also called PS), coffee, magnesium, tumeric, sage and ginger. You may want to look up this television show and watch the entire program.  I want to mention, however, that some of these suggestions are not backed by scientific research.  However, moderate amounts of those products will not harm you, and they might do your brain some good.

The way I look at it, none of these suggestions will hurt me, and I plan to try at least some of them. Anything I can do to prevent or postpone Alzeimers seems worthwhile to me.

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