Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease with 5 Lifestyle Changes

by Cherokie Dyer, PharmD candidate class of 2020,
University of Florida

September 11, 2019

alzheimers

Alzheimer’s is an irreversible brain disease best known for the hallmark sign of dementia. It is believed that Alzheimer’s is caused by plaques that form in the brain and damage your memory, thinking skills, and ability to do simple tasks. Usually the disease shows up around 60 years of age, with rare exceptions.

Treatment for Alzheimer’s

Currently, there are a few treatments to help with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease including agitation, loss of appetite, mood, and paranoia but there is no cure for the disease itself. In the past, Alzheimer’s disease seemed to be a random occurrence in old age.  The good news is that we now have research to suggest that it can be prevented or delayed.

Five ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s

There is not one specific behavior that you can start to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s. Rather, the Rush study lends evidence to suggest that it is a combination of four or more of these lifestyle behaviors that can lower your chances of getting Alzheimer’s. These findings even apply to people with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s due to genetic factors and family history.

  • Not Smoking
  • Exercising for at least 150 minutes a week at a moderate or vigorous level
  • Eating a brain supporting diet
  • Very light to moderate alcohol consumption
  • Engaging in late-life cognitive activities

The Alzheimer’s study indicates that practicing two or three of these behaviors can reduce your risk by about 37%. Practicing four or five of these behaviors can reduce your risk by 60%.

What is a Brain Food?

While most of these Alzheimer’s preventing behaviors are self-explanatory, two may need further explanation: ‘Eating a brain supporting diet’ and ‘light to moderate alcohol consumption’.

The MIND diet was developed by the same researchers as the Rush Study and incorporates recommendations from two popular heart healthy diets. It stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay and it was adjusted based on foods that would be accessible for Americans to readily include in their diet.

The MIND diet emphasizes ten foods you should eat daily and five foods you should avoid.

Start Eating: Green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and one cup of red wine

Avoid Eating: Red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

Key Take Aways

  • Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that can manifest as severe dementia.
  • There currently is no cure, but there is hope to prevent or delay it as you age.
  • Embracing at least four out of five lifestyle adjustments found in the Rush Study can lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 60%.

Cherokie Dyer is a PharmD candidate of 2020 who is also pursuing a career in nutrition and holistic wellness. She founded Healthy La Vie, a wellness platform aimed to help people live healthier lives through health education, nutrition and holistic wellness tips. She’s written many articles bringing the world of medicine and nutrition together on the Healthy La Vie blog.


References:

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-alzheimers-disease

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/aging/can-alzheimer-s-be-stopped-five-lifestyle-behaviors-are-key-n1029441

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/57163245/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/mind-your-diet-protect-against-alzheimers/#.XS5OzehKiUl

Mind Diet – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25681666

Findings from the Rush Memory and Aging project – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22471867

 

 

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