The research for a cure for Alzheimer's disease is actually accelerating. This neurodegenerative disease that adversely affects millions of older Americans is receiving continued assistance from the Alzheimer Association. The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading national advocate for Alzheimer’s disease.
While it is not yet clear if Alzheimer’s can be prevented, there is increasing evidence that you can take specific steps to help reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.Head FirstGood health starts with your brain. It’s one of the body’s most vital organs and it needs care and maintenance.Ongoing mental and physical exerciseExercise keeps the brain healthy. Either use it or lose it. Regular physical activity increases the blood flow to the brain and provides the nutrients necessary to render its tissues resistant to Alzheimer’s. Exercise also increases the number of connections among the millions of brain cells needed for normal mental function. Get into the habit of walking for thirty or sixty minutes a day as briskly as possible. Stair climbing is particularly effective, so take the steps when going up or down one or two flights and leave the elevators and escalators to the kids.EducationSeveral population studies have shown that the more schooling you have, the greater are your chances against Alzheimer’s. That may be because the educated are more likely to eat more nutritiously and receive better medical care throughout their lives. However, like physical exercise, ongoing intellectual challenges stimulate the formation of nerve connections. Even if you are destined to develop Alzheimer’s, the more neutrons you develop when you are young, the more you can afford to lose before symptoms set in.Many retired seniors sign up for classes in accounting, law, art, music, economics, or whatever else interests them to stay mentally active, and not necessarily to start a second career. The longer you continue your education at any age, or keep your mind busy in some other way, the more likely your neurons are to connect with each other later on.Reduce stressChronic stress (as well as anxiety and depression) raises your body’s production of the adrenal hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol have been shown to lead to memory impairment and atrophy of memory centers in the brain. Stress reduction techniques such as exercise, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi and biofeedback may help to combat chronic stress, anxiety and depression.DietEat as little animal fat as possible to reduce your vulnerability to Alzheimer’s. The incidence of Alzheimer’s in different countries correlates with the consumption of total fat. Fro example, in the United States, 5 percent of all persons over the age of sixty-five have the disease, while in China and Nigeria, where the fat intake is much lower, the incidence is only 1 percent. Japanese who move to America and double the amount of fat in their diet have twice the incidence of Alzheimer’s than do those who do not emigrate and presumably maintain their old eating habits.NicotineNicotine is a prime example of how new research data can supersede and negate previously acquired information. We used to believe that smokers were less likely than non-smokers to develop Alzheimer’s. But the anti-tobacco community is now breathing easier because more recent studies indicate that smoking doubles the risk of getting Alzheimer’s.Vitamin EHardly a day does by without some favorable report about vitamin E. I can’t think of any downside of this vitamin, with the possible exception of its raising blood pressure and causing some extra beats in some people. Vitamin E increases fertility in rats; it’s good for the heart; and many doctors prescribe it for the treatment of vascular disease, particularly for narrowing the arteries in the legs. Now comes word that vitamin E may also delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, presumably by virtue of its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants, of which there are many, are said to neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals, the byproducts of bodily process that involve oxygen. These radicals carry an extra electron that can damage the protein in the brain and other organs and accelerate the aging process. The body’s own antioxidant normally neutralizes these free radicals, but this defense can be enhanced by supplemental vitamin E.Hold off on heavy metalsHeavy metals such as mercury and lead are known to cause brain injury that may not be reversible. Sources of heavy metals include large fish (such as swordfish, tuna steaks, tilefish, king mackerel, shark, halibut and mahi-mahi), which are high in mercury and “silver” dental fillings. Lead exposure may occur from old paint and some calcium supplements, which have recently found to be contaminated with lead.Along the way, neurologists have discovered that the brain is much more adaptable as it ages than they realized. They have determined that the so-called plasticity of the brain, which allows the formation of new neurons as well as new connections between those neurons, can last a lifetime. "As far as our brains are concerned, learning something new or even retrieving something from memory is a plasticity response," says Molly Wagster of the National Institute on Aging