Researchers throughout the world are working frantically to find medications to prevent and treat dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. But so far, none of these have given very good results. It is almost certain that within 10 years, we will have better treatments, but for now, the best we can do is try to prevent the disease by optimizing diet and lifestyle.
The National Academy of Sciences and Medicine (USA) just released a report called “Preventing Cognitive Decline and Dementia” which summarized what we know at this point.
They concluded there were only three main ways that help, which we list here. However, the National Academy is a careful and conservative organization, and they only list things that have lots of research supporting the results. But there are many other things you can do that may well help to cut the risk of Alzheimer’s—but don’t have enough scientific research to satisfy the standards of the Academy. We list those following the National Academy recommendations.
Alzheimer and dementia prevention
Control blood pressure
You can imagine the damage to the small vessels in your brain after years of high pressure blood pulsing through your head. Blood pressure control appears most important in middle ages (ages 35 – 65). Unfortunately, as a “silent disease”, most people with high blood pressure are unware they have it, or if they are being treated, they don’t take their medicine.
This report is an alert to check your blood pressure occasionally, and if you are prescribed medications, take them faithfully. Good diet and exercise can help lower your pressure as well, but for many people, daily medication is necessary to avoid long term damage to brain, kidneys, and heart.
This may include: learning a second language which is excellent for your brain, playing card games, crossword puzzles, taking college or online courses, learning to play an instrument, and reading books. Being social with others is necessary to keep your brain in shape as well. Just watching TV all evening will, over time, likely weaken your thinking abilities (as well as your body).
Dancing is a particularly good way to strengthen your brain as it involves complex motion, listening to music, and socializing all in one exercise. Choose exercises that you enjoy and will do regularly—sports, swimming, biking, walking, whatever you like.
Other measures that may help
- Drink coffee and green tea
- Use lots of extra virgin olive oil
- Eat dark chocolate
- Get adequate vitamin B12
- If you are diabetic, keep it under good control
- Avoid certain medications that can affect your thinking
- Eat foods with lots of omega-3 (especially fish and nuts)
- Avoid contact with pesticides
- If you have a hearing loss, get it treated
While there is no sure-fire way to prevent Alzheimer’s or dementia, the more of these things you can do, the better!
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