Some diseases are crueler than others with Alzheimer’s having the current ugly edge in that category. So little is known about its causes that proactive prevention is almost non-existent.
So, unsurprisingly, when I came across an article called 5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s, I was intrigued.
Among the Alzheimer’s research noted in the article, a highlight is the PREVENT Research Program, which looks at the brain and cognitive function of participants, ages 40 to 59, to map changes in the brain that lead to dementia.
The idea is that by identifying those changes, researchers can predict whether a person is going to develop dementia and then take steps to head it off. The focus is on diet, drugs and cognitive training.
Study leader, Professor Craig Ritchie of the University of Edinburgh, says “Our aim is to be able to take any given individual and say, ‘Well your risk is X percent and here are the things you can personally do to help prevent it.’”
Although there is more to come, they came up with five things you can do to minimize the onset of dementia:
- Stimulate your brain.
The key to preventing memory loss and cognitive decline is brain stimulation. Keep continuously lighting up the brain by seeing friends, interacting with colleagues at work and taking up new activities that challenge you. By challenging your brain with complex tasks, you build up more connections in the brain that will serve you well as age weakens some connections in later life.
- Take aspirin (after you discuss it with your doctor).
The evidence is mounting that taking a low-dose aspirin a day can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. One study in Sweden, of women over 70 who were taking aspirin due to high risk of heart disease, found those who were taking aspirin had higher cognitive function and better memory than those who did not take aspirin.
- Take fish oil that contains Omega-3s.
While to date there have not been any large-scale studies about the effects of fish oils in the prevention of dementia, some small studies have indicated it may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. More extensive research will hopefully bear out these findings, but meanwhile, eating fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to be excellent for your overall health.
- Help your brain by helping your heart.
Doctors have identified seven risk factors they think may lead to Alzheimer’s: high blood pressure, midlife obesity, diabetes, smoking, lack of exercise, low level of education, and depression. The first five of these factors have also been associated with heart disease. We know that by controlling blood pressure, maintaining a good weight, and exercising and not smoking, we can help keep our hearts healthy. The same activities may also help minimize our dementia risks.
- Drink champagne (moderately!).
A study out of the University of Reading in the U.K. conducted on rodents found that consuming one to three glasses of champagne a week improved spatial memory and might help prevent cognitive decline in the brain. Phenolic compounds in the bubbly, which come from the grapes used to make champagne, the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, are credited with favorably altering the proteins in the brain linked to memory storage. The effects were similar to the positive effects of red wine (although it is flavonoids in red wine that are credited in that libation).
Whatever ailment might be a factor in your future, it’s important to take steps to ensure that you are cared for to your wishes. To talk powers of attorney and wills, please get in touch.