Taking Care Against Alzheimer's Disease

October 28, 2010

Many of us worry about the onset of Alzheimer's disease as we or our loved ones age, so recent research showing that the disease can be prevented or slowed in development by a healthy lifestyle is good news.  Ongoing research has pointed to a variety of health and lifestyle issues that increase the risk of Alzheimers disease from high cholesterol and heart disease, to obesity, lack of sleep and chronic stress, smoking, and alcohol to drug use and head injuries. And most of these factors are within your control! Surprisingly, genetics only accounts for 25 percent of Alzheimer's disease.  Additionally, scientists now suggest you can stimulate your mind, improve your mood, sharpen your memory, and reduce your Alzheimer’s risks. All this new research offers many useful tools in your work toward a long and healthy life. One new study followed more than 10,000 men and women -- all of them twins. They found the twins who worked and kept their brain active lowered their risk of Alzheimer's disease by 22 percent! The twins at a lower risk of the disease held jobs involving complex interaction with people, such as teaching, managing or negotiating. Work that encompasses compiling, organizing or analyzing information was also found to be helpful.  Finally, a recent Mayo Clinic review indicates that no single lifestyle choice has as much impact on aging and Alzheimer’s disease as exercise. In a 2009 review of literature from the International Journal of Clinical Practice, scientists documented that over time physical activity effectively reduces the probability of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and that those with existing cognitive problems and dementia receive a protective benefit from regular exercise. An important checklist of  positive lifestyle elements that guard against the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's  is:
  • plenty of exercise
  • a brain-healthy diet
  • an active mind
  • regular and restful sleep
  • relaxation
It is never too early or too late to implement a multi-faceted strategy and actively work to prevent or slow this disease. You'll be rewarded by feeling better now and helping your brain work stronger and longer.

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