Advertisement

Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention

Alzheimer’s disease prevention

Highlights

  1. Scientists haven’t yet discovered a way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
  2. You can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by making a variety of lifestyle changes.
  3. Staying mentally and physically fit, eating a healthy diet, and keeping an active social life could all help lower your risk.

There is no known way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Many agencies and people are involved in research on ways to slow, delay, or prevent AD, including:

  • researchers
  • pharmaceutical companies
  • foundations
  • nonprofit organizations

Researchers are looking into a variety of Alzheimer’s treatments they think may help, including:

  • cognitive training
  • antioxidants (e.g., vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene)
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) supplementation
  • hormones, type 2 diabetes treatments (insulin seems to play a role in AD)
  • exercise
  • cardiovascular treatments
Advertisement
Advertisement

Risk factors

Lowering your risk

There are a number of steps you can take now that may lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Consult your doctor before making any major lifestyle changes.

Diet

Maintain a healthy diet

Some evidence suggests a Mediterranean diet may decrease your risk of developing AD. This diet includes little red meat and emphasizes:

  • whole grains
  • fruits and vegetables
  • fish and shellfish
  • nuts
  • olive oil
  • other healthy fats

Other studies suggest that antioxidants may affect age-related changes in the brain. Berries have been shown to improve cognitive function in rats and mice, both in animals who are aging normally and in those who have developed AD. Types of berries that may help include:

  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • cranberries

Another study examined curcumin, the main ingredient of turmeric, the yellowish spice used in curry. It’s a powerful antioxidant. Curcumin has been shown to suppress the build-up of harmful amyloid plaques in the brains of rodents.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Mental activity

Keep up your mental exercise

An active brain may reduce your AD risk. Activities that help keep the brain active include:

  • listening to the radio
  • reading newspapers
  • playing puzzle games
  • visiting museums

Engaging in mental exercises seems to create or contribute to your “cognitive reserve.” In other words, you develop additional neurons and pathways in your brain. Why is this important? 

Normally, your brain has one road to transport information from point A to point B. If there’s a roadblock or a dead end, the information won’t make it. People who develop new ways of thinking through mental exercises create multiple and alternative routes in their brains. This makes it easier and faster for vital information to travel. 

To exercise your brain, try the following activities:

  • Do crossword puzzles.
  • Take up bridge.
  • Learn a new language.

Socializing

Increase your social engagement

Compelling research suggests seniors who spend most of their time in their immediate home environment are almost twice as likely to develop AD compared to those who travel more. These findings, however, may also reflect the general health of the individuals.

The advises that being engaged with your surroundings is good for your mental, physical, and emotional health.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Exercise

Aerobic exercise daily

When older adults with AD engage in aerobic exercise, it improves their psychological and behavioral symptoms.

According to the, there’s evidence suggesting that 30 minutes of exercise per day is crucial to preventing Alzheimer’s disease. One eight-year study examined the connection between mental function and physical activity in 6,000 women age 65 and older. It discovered that more active women were less likely to have a decline in mental functions than less active women.

Advertisement

Stop smoking

Stop smoking

Smoking may increase your risk for AD and dementia. Former smokers or those who smoked less than half a pack per day do not appear to have an increased risk. If you still smoke, now is the time to quit. Talk with your doctor about methods that could work for you.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Homocysteine

Lowering homocysteine

Homocysteine is an amino acid that’s a building block of protein. It naturally circulates in the blood. Recent studies indicate that higher than average blood levels of homocysteine is a risk factor for:

  • AD
  • vascular dementia
  • cognitive impairment

Foods high in folate (folic acid) and other B vitamins (such as B-6 and B-12) have been shown to lower homocysteine levels. Whether or not increasing these B vitamins in one’s diet might offer a protective effect for AD is yet unknown.

Some good food sources of folate include:

  • romaine lettuce
  • spinach
  • asparagus
  • broccoli
  • collard greens
  • parsley
  • cauliflower
  • beets
  • lentils 

Food sources of B-6 and B-12 include:

  • fish
  • red meat
  • potatoes
  • noncitrus fruit
  • fortified cereal
  • poultry
  • eggs 

Takeaway

The takeaway

Researchers don’t yet know how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. There are a number of things you can do to lower your risk of developing the disease. Staying mentally and physically fit, eating a healthy diet, and keeping an active social life are all thought to help lower your risk of cognitive decline, including AD. Fortunately, these are all good ways to stay healthy in general. Be sure to talk with your doctor about any new lifestyle changes that you plan.

Article resources
  • Albert, M. S., Dekosky, S. T., Dickson, D., Dubois, B., Feldman, H. H., Fox, N. C., … Phelps, C. H. (2011, May). The diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease: Recommendations from the National Institute on Aging and Alzheimer’s Association workgroup. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 7(3), 270-9. Retrieved from
  • Petersen, R. (2014, October 22). Can exercise prevent memory loss and improve cognitive function? Retrieved from:
  • Alzheimer’s Association. (2011, April 19). New criteria and guidelines for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease [Press release]. Retrieved from
  • Ballard, C., Gauthier, S., Corbett, A., Brayne, C., Aarsland, D., & Jones, E. (2011). Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet, 377(9770), 1019-1031. Retrieved from
  • Bosco, D., Fava, A., Plastino, M., Montalcini, T., & Pujia, A. (2011). Possible implications of insulin resistance and glucose metabolism in Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, 15(9), 1807-21. Retrieved from
  • Boyle, P. A., Buchman, A. S., Barnes, L. L., & Bennett, D. A. (2010, March). Effect of a purpose in life on risk of incident Alzheimer disease and mild cognitive impairment in community-dwelling older persons. Archives of General Psychiatry, 67(3), 304-310. Retrieved from
  • Boyle, P. A., Buchman, A. S., Barnes, L. L., James, B. D., & Bennett, D. A. (2010, October). Association between life space and risk of mortality in advanced age. Journal of American Geriatric Society, 58(10), 1925-1930. Retrieved from
  • Brinkley, T. E., Lovato, J. F., Arnold, A. M., Furberg, C. D., Kuller, L. H., Burke, G. L., … Williamson, A. D. (2010, February 18). Effect of Ginkgo biloba on blood pressure and incidence of hypertension in elderly men and women. American Journal of Hypertension, 23(5), 528-533. Retrieved from
  • Graff-Radford, J. (2016, February 11). Alzheimer’s prevention: Does it exist? Retrieved from
  • Harold, D., Abraham, R., Hollingworth, P., Sims, R., Gerrish, A., Hamshere, M. L., … Williams, J. (2009, October). Genome-wide association study identifies variants at CLU and PICALM associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Nature Genetics, 41(10), 1088-1093. file://localhost/Retrieved from http/::www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov:pubmed:19734902
  • Herrmann, W., & Obeid, R. (2011, March). Homocysteine: a biomarker in neurodegenerative diseases. Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, 49(3), 435-441. Retrieved from
  • Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease. (2012, July). Retrieved from
  • Office of Communications and Public Liaison. (2016, February 2). NINDS Alzheimer’s disease information page. Retrieved from
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2015, November 2). Dementia: Hope Through Research. Retrieved from
  • NIH State-of-the-Science Conference Statement: Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and Cognitive Decline. (2010, April 26-28). NIH Consensus State of the Science Statements, 27(4). Retrieved from
  • Reitz, C., Brayne, C., & Mayeux, R. (2011, March). Epidemiology of Alzheimer disease. Nature Reviews, Neurology, 7(3), 137-152. Retrieved from
  • Seneff, S., Wainwright, G., & Mascitelli, L. (2011). Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease: The detrimental role of a high carbohydrate diet. European Journal of Internal Medicine, 22(2), 134-140. Retrieved from
  • Strobel, G. (n.d.). Early-Onset familial Alzheimer disease. Retrieved from
  • Yu, F. (2011, March). Guiding research and practice: A conceptual model for aerobic exercise training in Alzheimer’s disease [Abstract]. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, 26(3), 184-94. Retrieved from
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement