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How to Reduce Alzheimer's Risk Factors

Updated on March 8, 2010

If you want to improve long-term brain health and avoid Alzheimer’s risk factors it is important to start as early in life as possible.  Think of times when your brain does not function properly such as after drinking alcohol, after little sleep, or during times of high stress.  The risks for Alzheimer’s disease can be effected by continuing activities like these over time.

  1. Constantly manage stress.  Chronic stress is estimated to multiply risk for Alzheimer’s disease by 4 times the normal rate.  Daily relaxation using meditation, massage, prayer, tai chi, or yoga can help to mitigate building stress.  There are many great techniques to reduce stress.  Try some to see what helps you.
  2. Try to minimize the risk of cardiovascular disease.  The health of the heart will also directly effect the health of the brain.  Since one of the major functions of the heart is delivering oxygen to the body’s organs, if the heart is not in good health the amount of oxygen available to the brain can be effected.  Research has shown that there is a direct correlation between cardiovascular disease and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  The risk of cardiovascular disease can be lowered by adding exercise and a healthy diet.  Choose healthy foods like nuts, omega 3 fatty foods, whole grains, green vegetables, berries, dark chocolate, and green tea.  Exercise at least 20 minutes 4-5 times per week.
  3. Avoid Type 2 diabetes.  High amounts of insulin and uncontrolled high blood sugar can damage the brain.  Avoid pre-packaged foods with refined sugars and white flour.  Foods with high fructose corn syrup should also be avoided.  There are better alternatives available such as whole grains and natural sugars.
  4. Stimulate the brain.  There is a brain health theory called the Theory of Neuroplasticity.  The core of this theory is continual learning keeps the brain healthy.  From age 20 on, it appears to be very important to constantly develop new connections in the brain through new learning.  Learning a previously unknown art like painting, sculpting, writing, or music can be a very healthy activity under this theory.  Other stimulating activities include puzzles, learning a new language, and reading.  The bottom line is that continuing to build your brain even over 60 years old is a good thing.
  5. Get a consistent amount of sleep.  The sleep should also be near the same time period every day.  Staying up late but sleeping in on the weekends is not as good.  Scientists think the brain is designed to recover at night.  This recovery includes strengthening needed memory connections and eliminating unwanted connections.  Overall, sleep is extremely healthy for the brain which helps avoid Alzheimer‘s risk.  Try not sleeping well for a few nights and you will understand the consequences of lack of sleep on your brain. If the brain is cheated sleep over a long period of time the results can be issues with brain health.

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