5 Ways to Lower Your Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

As you get older, you may worry about developing Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a progressive and irreversible brain condition that causes people to lose their memory.

But it’s not just memory that Alzheimer’s affects: This disease also destroys thinking and learning skills, speech, and the ability to complete simple tasks, such as getting a cup of water.

While the research on Alzheimer’s prevention isn’t entirely conclusive, we do know that some lifestyle factors are linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. To help you take steps to lower your own risk, our providers at Michigan Neurology Associates share these 5 tips.

1. Exercise often

It’s no secret that exercise is linked to numerous health benefits. We know that regular physical activity helps people lose weight, improve heart health, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and even improve mood and focus. But did you know that exercise is linked to better brain health, too?

Exercise may directly benefit brain health because exercise reduces inflammation and sends more red blood cells and oxygen to the brain, which helps your brain matter receive more of the nutrients that your blood carries.

Physical activity also stimulates the release of growth factors in the brain — chemicals that affect the health of your brain cells and the growth of new blood vessels in your brain. The growth factors even help your new brain cells survive.

2. Eat a healthy diet

Again, it’s common knowledge by now that a nutritious diet is linked to a healthy body. Most of us know what we should eat — the problem is that bad habits are hard to break (and food is yummy). But if you’re concerned about your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, it’s worth taking a look at your diet.

Diets rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and fish — which almost sums up the Mediterranean diet — are linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Studies also link the Mediterranean diet to improved cognition in people at risk of cardiovascular disease.

3. Stay social

Humans are social creatures. We thrive when we regularly interact with other humans, and we often get lonely or depressed when our lives lack social interaction. This is true even for introverts, who still need social interaction, but thrive when they’re able to “recharge” with some alone time.

Research suggests that maintaining a rich social life can help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Experts aren’t certain why this is, but believe social and mental stimulation strengthen connections between nerve cells in the brain.

In any case, hanging out with friends is fun, so take a break and have a good time. Your immediate gratification will be happiness, and your long-term gratification may be a stronger memory.

4. Learn new things

You’re sure to live a rich, complex life if you continuously learn new things. Turns out, you may also reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease through learning. Scientists believe that intellectual or mental stimulation is linked to a reduced risk of cognitive impairment later in life. The research on this hypothesis isn’t conclusive, but it’s promising.

5. Avoid head trauma

This may be the most important step you can take, for Alzheimer’s or otherwise. Research links head trauma to a whole slew of cognitive conditions, and studies suggest a strong link between serious head trauma and future risk of Alzheimer’s.

To reduce your risk of head trauma, always wear a helmet on bikes, scooters, skateboards, and when playing sports. Wear your seatbelt in the car and rearrange your home so that it’s “fall-proof.”

The bottom line

The science surrounding Alzheimer’s disease is promising, but not conclusive. Following the steps above can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, but you’ll also improve your current quality of life by incorporating these healthy tips into your life.

If you’re concerned about your risk for Alzheimer’s disease or about a loved one’s symptoms, our caring doctors at Michigan Neurology Associates can provide an evaluation. Call one of our four offices in the Metro Detroit area or schedule an appointment online.

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