Ways to ward off Dementia
Globally, cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s in the elderly (and not so old) are on the rise. Dementia is a debilitating ailment that can affect the wellbeing of seniors especially in the area of memory loss, making them dependent on others for care.
Until a cure for Alzheimer’s is discovered, researchers emphasize precautions younger people can take now that may ward off or delay the chance of developing the disorder. From staying active to eating a healthy diet to just being social, there are a number of moves you can make to minimize your Alzheimer’s and dementia risk.
Food and the brain
Your brain is affected by what you eat. Research demonstrates that a diet rich in fruits, veggies, lean protein and healthy fats can give your brain the necessary nutrients to decrease inflammation and provide a steady power source for your mind. Research has also shown that glial cells in the brain are associated with removal of toxins that may play a role in Alzheimer’s development, according to the National Institutes of Health. Foods like soy, fatty fish, blueberries and other dark berries, ginger, and green tea are thought to protect cells from damage.
Other dietary choices that have been shown to aid brain health include a Mediterranean style diet of omega-3-rich fish, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, and fresh produce, colourful fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants, green tea for memory and alertness and grazing instead of eating big meals throughout the day to control blood sugar levels, which can impact brain health.
Avoid trans and saturated fats commonly found in fried, processed, and packaged foods, as well as red meat and full-fat dairy, coffee and turmeric and more specifically caffeine and curcumin, to help in Alzheimer’s prevention.
Keep your mind stimulated by challenging yourself to learn something new every day. Studies find that people who keep their brains active- whether by multitasking, organizing, interacting, or communicating- run less risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.
To keep your brain smart and alert, study a new language, learn to play a musical instrument, read more, challenge yourself with memorisation games and play games on the computer or do crossword puzzles.
Exercise is important
A study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that better cardiovascular fitness levels in middle age might decrease dementia risk later on. Scientists tracked treadmill routines of 19,000 healthy middle-aged people from 1970 to 2009 and concluded that those who performed most optimally were least likely to develop dementia. This discovery confirms previous research showing that fitness may in fact be a modifiable risk factor for Alzheimer’s, so exercise may hold the key to maintaining not only a healthy body, but also a healthy mind.
Depression, smoking, and weight gain have also been linked to the development of dementia, and staying in shape has been shown to improve depression symptoms, help you stop smoking, and slow weight gain. So hit the gym now, or take a long walk and keep going!
Stay social, cut stress
Make sure to cut the stress from your life, or at least try to control it. Nothing good ever comes of being stressed out. Stress is known to spark or worsen many health conditions, and is often responsible for forgetfulness and feeling overwhelmed.
Also, surround yourself with people you not only love, but also enjoy. Isolation can be a silent killer when it comes to Alzheimer’s. Staying social keeps your mind active and stimulated.
Here are some tips to minimize stress and maximize social interaction:
Meditate, relax, take a yoga class. Volunteer or join a club. Take a class where you can connect with others who share your interests. Connect with friends weekly. Explore your neighborhood, and meet your neighbours.