Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior. It is a progressive disease that can affect daily tasks and individuals diagnosed lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment.
Can Alzheimer’s disease be prevented?
Alzheimer's develops as a result of complex interactions among multiple factors, including age, genetics, and environment, lifestyle and coexisting medical conditions. Some risk factors, such as age and genetics, cannot be changed. Other factors including high blood pressure and lack of exercise are controllable in some cases, and can help reduce risk.
Research shows there are steps we can take in order to reduce the risk of dementia.
Diet and Exercise: High blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's. Some autopsy studies show that nearly 80% of individuals with Alzheimer's disease also have cardiovascular disease. Therefore, they may be a link to exercise and the prevention of Alzheimer’s.
While diet and physical exercise are beneficial in any scenario, exercise may help brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain. Additionally, heart-healthy eating has demonstrated benefits. Heart-healthy eating includes limiting the intake of sugar and saturated fats and making sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Two diets that have been studied and may be beneficial to lowering the risk of Alzheimer's are as follows:
The DASH diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts and vegetable oils. It limits sodium, sweets, sugary beverages and red meats.
A Mediterranean diet emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and healthy fats like nuts and olive oil. It limits red meat.
Head trauma: There is a correlation between cognitive impairment and head trauma. Make sure to always wear a seatbelt and use a helmet to protect your head.
Keep your brain busy In addition to being physically active, it is important to keep your brain active and healthy as well. Social and mental stimulation strengthen connections between nerve cells in the brain.
Reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles and solving challenging puzzles may be linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease due to its mental stimulation.
Find more information, interventions, and more at https://www.alz.org/
By: Erica Savello
Creative Arts Therapy Intern