What is good for the heart is good for the brain. Exercise can have a beneficial effect at any age to help protect against dementia. There is also growing evidence that regular exercise promotes cell and tissue repair mechanisms including growth of new cells in the brain.
Being seriously overweight is a risk factor for developing dementia. Obesity is associated with type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure -- all known risk factors.
Normalize Blood Pressure
High blood pressure increases your chance of dementia by causing damage to your brain. This may happen as a result of a stroke, or because of microvascular disease, a condition which slows the flow of blood through your body, thereby damaging cells and nerves in your brain.
Avoid all Tobacco
As well as raising the risk of vascular disease -- a risk factor for dementia -- smoking can result in low oxygen levels in your brain, which in turn can promote the production of the protein found in brain plaques.
Follow a Mediterranean Diet
Several recent studies have highlighted the potential for this diet to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Further long-term research is needed to confirm the effects of eating this way.
Be Socially Active
Some evidence suggests that an active social life throughout life can be protective, with both the social ties one enjoys with others and non-physical leisure time deemed important.
There is some evidence that intensive brain training can improve reasoning and problem solving.
It is important to understand that dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is not a normal part of aging. This is why it’s especially sad that so many Americans are becoming inflicted with this devastating, and fatal, disease.
As you can see from the dementia risk-reducing guide above, which is, by the way, one of the best such guides I’ve seen published by a mainstream media source, you can significantly reduce your risk by making positive lifestyle changes.
While the above guide is an excellent starting point, it did leave out some key strategies, which I’ll describe shortly.
Why is Dementia Increasing?
In case you’re not familiar with the condition of dementia, it is a general term for memory loss and loss of other intellectual abilities that is serious enough to interfere with your daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 50 percent to 70 percent of all dementia cases.
As the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, someone develops Alzheimer’s every 70 seconds. By 2030, the latest 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report estimates that nearly 8 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s, with the figure rising as high as 16 million by 2050.
The numbers are rising like steam off a geyser because the U.S. population is getting older, and increasing age is the greatest risk factor for this disease.
There are other risk factors, too. For instance, people with diabetes have up to a 65 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. But this takes us back to lifestyle once again, as many of the same lifestyle changes that will lower your risk of diabetes will also lower your risk of Alzheimer’s.
So I want to reiterate that even though age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s, just because you’re getting older it does not mean you will lose your mental faculties. There are plenty of very sharp 80 and 90-year-olds walking around this planet right now who can testify to this personally.
What is their secret?
I would venture to say that they’ve been following a healthy lifestyle for some time now, and are now reaping the benefits. This is one of the best ways to keep your mind intact, no matter what your age, and the good news is that you can take advantage of it too.
The Alzheimer’s Prevention Lifestyle
NOW is the time to start taking action to preserve your brain function. The guide above is an excellent starting point, but I believe my detailed guide below will offer you a more comprehensive strategy.
Fortunately, this guide can make a major difference in your risk of all sorts of chronic diseases, so know that if you make the effort to enact these changes you will reap multiple health and emotional benefits -- even as you get older.
Optimize your vitamin D levels through safe sun exposure, a safe tanning bed and/or vitamin D supplements.
Eat plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats in the form of krill oil. Fifty percent of your brain is an omega-3 fat called DHA. My favorite source of this is krill oil because it is so highly absorbed you need far less of it than fish oil. Additionally, it is loaded with beneficial antioxidants and is clearly the most sustainable source of animal-based omega-3 on the planet. Avoid most fish because although it is high in omega-3, it is often contaminated with toxic mercury.
Avoid toxins, especially mercury, aluminum and fluoride. Dental amalgam fillings are one of the major sources of mercury, however you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a qualified biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.
(Be sure to only use a high-quality biologically trained dentist who is familiar with the removal of amalgam fillings or your health could get ruined.)
Avoid flu vaccinations as well, as they contain both mercury and aluminum!
Fluoride, meanwhile, is another powerful neurotoxin. The most common sources would be in your water and toothpaste. But it is also a part of some antibiotics (like Cipro), soy protein, and pesticides, so seek to have as much of your food organically grown as possible, and filter your tap water with a reverse osmosis filter to eliminate the fluoride.
Keep fasting insulin levels below three. There is no question that insulin resistance is one of the most pervasive influences on brain damage, as it contributes massively to inflammation, which will prematurely degenerate your brain.
Exercise regularly. According to one study, the odds of developing Alzheimer's were nearly quadrupled in people who were less active during their leisure time, between the ages of 20 and 60, compared with their peers.
Eliminate all processed foods and sugars. 95% of the food we eat is processed. We need to get back to regularly preparing our food at home to preserve the natural nutrition that is in the food to begin with and to help us eat more raw foods.
Additionally you will want to avoid fructose, not only the obvious ones added in sodas, but also from eating too many fruits. If you consume more than 25 grams a day of fructose you can damage your cells by creating insulin and leptin resistance and raising your uric acid levels.
Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, such as traveling, learning to play an instrument or doing crossword puzzles, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer's. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease.