Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease, 8 Drug Free Suggestions
If you want to know what you can do to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, you are not alone. Here are 8 suggestions that include the latest research and study findings on how to combat this devastating disease.
What are 8 ways to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease?
Let’s begin with the newest suggestion, which comes by way of a team led by Carole Dufouil, director of research in neuroepidemiology at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. Her findings, which are scheduled to be presented at the Alzheimer’s Association conference in Boston on July 22, 2013, suggest that delaying retirement is one way to reduce the risk of dementia.
It should be noted that the results are preliminary and show an association between retiring later in life and a lower rate of dementia, but not a cause-and-effect relationship. However, the findings do support previous research indicating that a “use it or lose it” approach to helping prevent dementia is a wise choice.
Overall, the study found that for each year after age 60 at which someone retired, their risk of eventually developing Alzheimer’s disease was reduced by 3.2 percent. Someone who retired at age 65 had a nearly 15 percent lower risk of developing dementia than a person who retired at age 60.
Other ways to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease
What else can you begin to do right now to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease?
- More use it or lose it advice: Holding off on retirement is one way to help keep your brain active, but there are plenty of other ways as well. Be sure to challenge your mental abilities daily by learning new tasks and skills, doing puzzles, reading, writing, engaging in discussion groups, and socializing.
- Nutritional supplement: Several studies have indicated that a nutritional supplement called Souvenaid, which contains chloline, the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, uridine, B vitamins, phospholipids, and antioxidants, may be effective in helping individuals who have mild Alzheimer’s disease. An Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study, for example, found that 40 percent of Alzheimer’s patients who were given the supplement, compared with 24 percent of those who received a placebo, showed improvement on verbal memory.
- Vitamin D: Some research indicates that women with the lowest intake of vitamin D (50 micrograms per week) had a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who consumed 59 micrograms weekly. Vitamin D may have a protective effect on the hippocampus, which is the center of memory in the brain. The Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin D for adults is 600 International Units (IU, or 15 micrograms) and 800 IU (20 mcg) for adults older than 70.
- Meditation: A study from the University of Pennsylvania involved evaluation of the impact of meditation on individuals who had memory problems. The researchers found that subjects who participated in a type of meditation called Kirtin Kriya, which is part of the Kundalini yoga tradition, experienced an increase in blood flow to areas of the brain involved in retrieving memories.
- Coffee: In June 2012, a study released by an expert at the University of South Florida stated there was “direct evidence” that drinking coffee could protect against mild cognitive impairment and further progression to Alzheimer’s disease. Research suggests coffee and caffeine help suppress the increase in amyloid plaques in the brain and inflammation, both of which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s. Three cups of coffee daily was identified as the “magic” number to help ward off dementia in this study.
- Mediterranean diet: Repeated studies have indicated that following a Mediterranean diet helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, a study from Columbia University Medical Center reported that individuals who followed a Mediterranean diet and had high exercise rate (more about exercise below) had a 35 to 44 percent reduced risk for developing dementia.
- Regular exercise: Participating in regular exercise has many benefits, and warding off dementia appears to be one of them. A 2012 study from the University of California, Irvine, for example, reported that among elderly adults age 90 and older, there was a strong correlation between poor physical abilities and dementia in this age group. Activities such as tai chi have been shown to help increase brain volume and reduce brain shrinkage, both of which are instrumental in dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating disease that has no cure and continues to be a source of intense investigation. Until experts can discover how to beat this dementia, everyone can take steps to help prevent the disease as much as possible.
Dufouil C et al. Older age at retirement is associated with decreased risk of dementia: analysis of a healthcare insurance database of self-employed workers. AAIC 2013; abstract O2-13-01