Recent research has presented compelling evidence that it is possible to ward off many common neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s. In fact, by making a few simple lifestyle changes you could reduce your chances of getting Alzheimer’s by a massive 70% to 80%. At a time when this debilitating and life impacting disease is steadily increasing, it’s advice that is well-worth heeding.
Minimize “bad” fats in your diet:
Saturated and trans fats increase blood cholesterol levels which in turn encourages the production of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. In Alzheimer’s disease sufferers, beta-amyloid plaques are one of the main indicators used in diagnosis and studies have found that people who consumed the most saturated fat tripled their risk of developing the disease.
Eat more vegetables and fruit:
It goes without saying that a healthy, balanced diet should include fruit and vegetables. These foodstuffs, together with whole grains and legumes, are packed full of minerals and vitamins which protect the brain’s health; vitamin B6 and folate being particularly important. Studies have shown that a high intake of these foods is directly associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline.
In addition, a fruit and veg rich diet also lowers the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes; both of which are contributory factors in the development of Alzheimer’s.
Get your daily dose of Vitamin E:
Vitamin E is an antioxidant which has been linked to a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Avoid supplements as these don’t offer the same benefit and stick to eating foodstuffs where Vitamin E occurs naturally; nuts, seeds, avocados, tomatoes, red peppers, spinach, mangos and papayas, fortified cereals and breads. Including some of these foods in your daily diet will give you the recommended 5mg dose of Vitamin E.
Another important vitamin is B12 and you should aim to consume 2.4mcg per day. Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in meat, poultry and fish, and dairy products. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, other good sources include; Marmite, bananas, potatoes, dried apricots, dates and figs, brown rice, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, wheat germ and wholegrain cereals.
Vitamin B12 reduces levels of the amino acid, homocysteine which is linked to cognitive impairment. An Oxford University study found that high levels of homocysteine coincided with memory problems and that supplementing subjects’ diets with B vitamins improved memory and reduced brain atrophy.
Avoid iron and copper supplementation:
There is a link between the excessive consumption of iron and copper and cognitive problems so avoid taking supplements containing these metals unless directed by your doctor.
Choose your cookware carefully:
Use stainless steel or cast iron pots and pans rather than aluminum. Aluminum is thought to contribute to cognitive problems, although this is still under investigation and the data available is still new.
Studies suggest that regular aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of dementia by as much as 50% so it’s important to keep yourself active and fit. Walking briskly, swimming or cycling are all great forms of exercise and can be as energetic as you wish to suit your age, fitness level and physical health. Always consult with your doctor though before you embark of any form of fitness regime if you haven’t exercised for a long time or have a history of heart problems.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that keeping your brain active also keeps it healthy. If you’re not into brain training exercises or Sudoku, try reading, crossword puzzles or playing Bridge or Scrabble; anything in fact that makes you think. You could even take up blogging!
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.