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The Cardiologist's Wife - Part Three in The Alzheimer's Series
Feb 14, 2019

On a daily basis, we do things to minimize risks to our security and prosperity, things like buying insurance in case of storm damage to our home, driving defensively to avoid a car accident or installing a security system to guard against theft. We do these things to live a happier, less stressful and more secure life. But one thing we often neglect is to minimize risks to our health. For some reason we throw caution to the wind when it comes to our health and resist doing all we can to protect our wellbeing. Instead we smoke, sit too much and eat our fill of processed, chemical laden food which poisons our bodies and we make do on less than 6 hours sleep. No wonder we are stressed and diseased. This is the third part in my series on Alzheimer’s in which I focus on prevention; things we can do to minimize our risk for developing not only Alzheimer’s but also heart disease, diabetes and more.

Only recently have scientists begun to think Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia may be preventable. Research has begun to show that lifestyle choices and management of certain health conditions can make a difference to the quality of our life and our longevity. Scientists believe that Alzheimer’s develops as a result of a complex interaction of multiple factors like age, lifestyle, environment, genetics and other underlying medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Let’s review some ways you can lower your risk for developing Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

Exercise not only strengthens muscles, including your heart, it increases blood flow to all vital organs like the brain. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients and carries away waste and toxins so it can’t build up and damage surrounding tissue. Exercise also reduces stress, another risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s. It is believed that exercise stimulates the brain to maintain connections between neurons or make new ones.

Eat a diet filled with vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins. These foods are filled with the nutrients your body needs. Your brain especially needs omega 3 fats for repair and growth of brain tissue. Avoid sugary foods and processed carbs which lead to spikes in blood sugar and inflame your brain. Inflammation and insulin resistance injure neurons in the brain, breaking communication between brain cells. Transfats also cause inflammation and produce free radicals.

Get a good night’s sleep of 7 to 8 hours. The body performs many repairs during sleep plus your brain is busy processing memories and feelings and making connections between events. Make sure to get treated for sleep apnea as well.

Stay socially active. People need human contact to thrive. Go to church, the gym, be on a friendly basis with neighbors or volunteer. Stay connected to family or get a pet.

Be a life long learner. In one study, those who received 10 sessions of mental training had improved cognitive functions even 10 years later. Take up a new hobby, play games, travel or take a class.

Stop smoking! Smokers have a nearly 80% higher risk of Alzheimer’s than non-smokers. Smoking impairs blood circulation to the brain and fills the body with toxins.

Protect your head. Always wear a helmet when biking, horse back riding, snow skiing or at work if required.

Watch your weight. Excess abdominal fat increases your risk for insulin resistance and releases chemicals which cause inflammation.

Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and high cholesterol lead to heart disease which can reduce blood flow to the brain.

Drink in moderation. While a drink or two may have health benefits, heavy drinking accelerates brain aging and damages many other organs.

Last, stay informed by keeping up with the latest medical developments and make adjustments as necessary when science provides new information.

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