The Anti-Alzheimer’s Gameplan

Current statistics reported by the Alzheimer’s Association tell me that once we hit 85, chances are either my wife or I will be

Healthy brain (bottom) versus brain of a donor...

Change your lifestyle today to keep your brain like the healthy brain (bottom) not the shrunken brain with Alzheimer’s (top). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

afflicted with Alzheimer’s. That’s right–nearly half of all people over 85 are dying slowly thanks to Alzheimer’s, as medicine has not been able to significantly slow it down or cure it.

But there is hope: only 2% of Alzheimer’s cases are linked to genetics according to recent studies reported by Dynamic Chiropractic. Can the other 98% be prevented? The jury is still out, but leaning yes.

You don’t have to feel like your brain is a time-bomb; the lifestyle choices you make every day can work to prevent Alzheimer’s in the future. My wife and I both live in a way that combats Alzheimer’s.

Here’s how to go about preventing Alzheimer’s with your lifestyle:

1. Don’t let your cholesterol get high. Atherosclerosis is a precursor to dementia; in other words, if you are on the path to heart disease, you are on the path to Alzheimer’s. Avoid trans fats/hydrogenated oils and severely limit your intake of processed foods.

2. Keep your blood sugar in check. Diabetes is a precursor to Alzheimer’s; in fact, there is a 3rd type of diabetes added to the list that is specifically a diabetes closely connected to Alzheimer’s. This “Type 3 Diabetes” is also known as “Brain Diabetes” because it refers to the stopping of insulin production and/or use by the brain. There is a lot of research in this field, but–unsurprisingly– it is likely that this is caused by poor diet and lack of regular exercise, not genetics. Other types of diabetics are at particular risk for Type 3, but anyone who neglects care of their brain or diet is well on the path to Alzheimer’s.

3. Get your vitamins and minerals. Follow the “Low Stress Diet” and eat a variety of non-processed foods every day. If you are getting to be older and have not been taking good care of yourself, consider periodically adding Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B supplements to your diet while you start making it healthful. There is no need to supplement any of these daily, but a weekly supplement could be helpful in some cases. But don’t rely on supplements to keep you healthy! There is no shortcut: you need to eat healthfully.

4. Get to your ideal body weight and stay there; while you’re at it, keep a percentage of body fat which is on the low side of the healthy range. This one I can’t stress enough; the benefits of maintaining fitness throughout life are infinite–just as the risks of being overweight or obese are innumerable. Track your percentage of body fat to be sure not to overlook a poor ratio of muscle to fat which can occur even at an acceptable weight.

5. Consume plenty of essential fatty acids. I would suggest eating wild caught fish twice a week (I’m a fan of salmon, myself) and consuming flaxseed oil (It is tasteless, so I even add it to my SP Complete smoothies). Again, if you feel you are late to living a healthful lifestyle consider supplementation with flaxseed, cod liver, and borage oils.

6. Mind your melatonin levels. Melatonin is the hormone which regulates sleep and circadian rhythms and is triggered by the presence of light. Don’t look at blue light–especially computers or televisions–before bed. Remove all blue or other colored light from the bedroom. If you are older and have a history of trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about using melatonin supplements. Personally, I suggest supplementation with a hormone like melatonin should be handled with extreme caution as scientists are finding hormone supplementation in the long run can cause the body to stop naturally producing hormones, making the body permanently dependent on supplements. Before trying supplementation, be sure to incorporate habits that promote healthful sleep into your habits: try meditation, stretching, deep breathing, or relaxing yoga in the evenings before bed. Don’t eat for two hours before bedtime, and exercise during the day for some amount of time every single day.

7. Acetylcholine is key. This chemical is used by the nervous system to execute many, many different commands. A lack of acetylcholine is the chief marker of Alzheimer’s. In older adults supplementation may be necessary to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s, but in most try incorporating more lecithin into the diet. Lecithin promotes the production of acetylcholine and can be found in eggs, peanuts and whole grains among other sources.

English: Maternal anti-smoking campaign

Quit smoking today and think better tomorrow. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

8. Say “NO!!!” to drugs–including tobacco and alcohol. These are known to damage the brain. They also introduce free radicals into the body which use up Vitamin C, interfere proper function, and decrease absorption of vitamins and minerals.

9. Accept the challenge; learn something new. Pick something difficult. Try learning a new language or instrument. Challenging the brain will create new neural pathways which keep the brain young and sharp. Play memory games and puzzles and card games for fun or during free time to keep the brain working.

10. Don’t bang your head. Wear a helmet during cycling, skiing, rollerblading, climbing, or any other activity where you can fall and hurt your head. Damaged brain cells are dead brain cells, and new brain cells will not be created; take care of the ones you have.

Living well today really will make a difference in the future, as we have previously discussed. It will make a difference to more than just you: the example you set effects everyone around you, and your health will affect the health of your kids.

Do you have any comments or stories or questions? Please feel free to comment and share. You can also email me at drclaps@clapschiropractic.com.

Resources:

http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_and_figures.asp

http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=56081

http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=56114

 

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~ by danclaps on October 2, 2012.

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