What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that is common in the aging population and results in dementia. 1 There are over 6.5 million people (1 in 10 over the age of 65) with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. 2
Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention
The following healthy habits can all help reduce the risk of the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Overall, you want to make sure your cardiovascular system is strong, and steps are taken to keep your mental acuity sharp.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
Eating a balanced diet of nutritional, whole foods, rich in beneficial fats and antioxidants, as well as avoiding trans fats and highly processed seed oils can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. 3 Choose foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild-caught salmon, nuts, and seeds in addition to a variety of fresh produce, whole grains, and healthy proteins. Omega-3 fatty acids promote brain development and cell signaling. 4 Avoiding alcohol can also help reduce your risk of developing this disease. 5 Keeping blood sugar even can help decrease inflammation in blood vessels, which has been shown to increase dementia risk.
Get Moving Regularly
Regular physical exercise promotes cardiovascular health and blood circulation to your brain, which is linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 6 Physical activity also supports brain health and helps reduce age-related memory loss. 7 Try making physical activity a regular habit, by walking or jogging, adding a yoga practice to your daily routine, swimming laps at the pool, or any other activity that gets your body moving and sweating.
Mindfulness is a meditative technique that involves intense focus on the present moment and not allowing the mind to wander to judgment or past/future “what ifs.” Research shows that practicing mindfulness meditation increases gray matter in the brain, which boosts cognitive function and brain health. 8 Try adding a simple mindfulness meditation practice to your regular routine.
Connect with People
Research shows that maintaining positive social connections can reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease as you age. 9 Be conscious of which social interactions make you feel good, and prioritize those. Some simple ways to ensure that socializing stays a habitual part of your routine are to have regularly scheduled phone calls/visits with family and friends, volunteer in your local community, or join a club that interests you.
Making a habit of exercising your brain regularly is also important and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in some people. 10 The best way to exercise your brain is to focus on something that requires you to think in different ways than you usually would. Some options include crossword puzzles, learning phrases in a new language, picking up a musical instrument or new hobby, or making art.
A naturopathic doctor can provide you with more strategies that may help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Find an ND who can help you optimize and hack your brain health here: