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Eat curry, have a cuppa, sleep well and avoid Alzheimer's.


In the final part of our series on 25 ways to ward off Alzheimer's, we bring you more scientifically backed, easy ways to keep your memory intact as you age.

Yesterday, we revealed 13 top tips that included everything from watching your diet and drinking red wine to surfing the web.

Today, we share a dozen more from the best-selling book 100 Simple Things You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer's.

14 Make your diet Mediterranean

The Mediterranean diet, no matter where you live, can help save your brain from memory deterioration and dementia.

Studies consistently find that what the Greeks and Italians eat is truly brain food.

Following this diet - rich in green leafy vegetables, fish, fruits, nuts, legumes, olive oil and a little vino - can cut your chances of Alzheimer's by nearly half.

Rather than depending on just one food or a few nutrients, it is a rich menu of many complex brain benefactors, including an array of antioxidants, which shield brain cells from oxidative damage.

15 Watch middle age obesity

Unfortunately, your brain cares if you are fat. A study showed obese people had 8% less brain tissue and overweight people had 4% less brain tissue than normal weight people, which according to one scientist hugely increases the risk of Alzheimer's.

Moreover, brain shrinkage occurred in areas of the brain targeted by Alzheimer's, and which are critical for planning, long term memory, attention and executive functions, and control of movement.

Tackle signs of rising weight early, when you are young or middle aged.

Oddly, being obese after the age of 70 does not raise the risk of Alzheimer's but that doesn't mean you should neglect exercise as it is the best way of stimulating cognitive functioning and may delay the onset of Alzheimer's at any age.

16Get a good night's sleep

A lack of sleep is toxic to brain cells. Sleep has surprising powers to protect your brain against memory loss and Alzheimer's.

It is a wonder drug that helps manipulate levels of the dreaded brain toxin peptide beta-amyloid, a prime instigator of Alzheimer's, which according to one scientist puts you at accelerated risk.

Research has also found that sleeping an average of five hours or less a night is linked to large increases in dangerous visceral and abdominal fat, which can cause diabetes and obesity that can lead to Alzheimer's. Take naps and seek treatment for sleep disorders. sleeping a night ngerous hich can at can and ers.

17Have a big social circle

Studying the brain of a highly sociable 90-year-old woman who died from Alzheimer's, researchers in Chicago found that having a large social network provided her with strong "cognitive reserve" that enabled her brain to not realise she had Alzheimer's. Why this happens is a mystery but interacting with friends and family seems to make the brain more efficient. It finds alternative routes with enabled her of communication to bypass broken connections left by Alzheimer's. So see friends and family often and expand your social network. The stronger the brain reserve you build through life, the more likely you are to stave off Alzheimer's symptoms.

18Learn to deal with stress

When you are under stress, your body pours out hormones called corticosteroids, which can save you in a crisis.

But persistent stress reactions triggered by everyday events like work frustration, traffic jams and financial worries can be dangerous. Over time, it can destroy brain cells and suppress the growth of new ones, actually shrinking your brain.

Sudden traumatic events like the death of a loved one or a life-changing event like retirement can leave a hangover of severe psychological stress that precedes dementia. Be aware that chronic stress can increase older people's vulnerability to memory decline and dementia. Seek professional advice.

Antidepressants, counselling, relaxation techniques and other forms of therapy may head off stress-related memory loss if treated in the early stage.

19Take care of your teeth

Bad gums may poison your brain. People with tooth and gum disease tend to score lower in memory and cognition tests, according to US dental researchers who found that infection responsible for gum disease gives off inflammatory byproducts that travel to areas of the brain involved in memory loss.

Consequently, brushing, flossing and preventing gum disease may help keep your gums and teeth healthy but also your memory sharper. In another study older people with the most severe gingivitis - inflamed gums - were two to three times more likely to show signs of impaired memory and cognition than those with the least.

20Get enough Vitamin B12

As you age, blood levels of vitamin B12 go down and the chance of Alzheimer's goes up. Your ability to absorb it from foods diminishes in middle age, setting the stage for brain degeneration years later.

Researchers at Oxford University found that a brain running low on B12 actually shrinks and a shortage can lead to brain atrophy by ripping away, myelin, a fatty protective sheath around neurons.

It can also trigger inflammation, another destroyer of brain cells. Take 500 to 1000mcg of vitamin B12 daily after the age of 40. If you or an older family member has unexplained memory loss, fatigue or signs of dementia, be sure to get tested for vitamin B12 deficiency by your GP.

21Vinegar in everything

There is plenty of evidence that vinegar sinks risk factors that may lead to memory decline, namely high blood sugar, insulin resistance, diabetes and pre-diabetes and weight gain.

Researchers in Phoenix, Arizona, have noted in studies of humans and animals that the acidic stuff packs potent glucose-lowering effects.

Studies have also found it can curb appetite and food intake, helping prevent weight gain and obesity, which are associated with diabetes, accelerated dementia and memory loss.

Pour on the vinegar - add it to salad dressings, eat it by the spoonful, even mix it into a glass of drinking water. Any type of vinegar works.

22Have your eyes checked

If you preserve good or excellent vision as you age, your chances of developing dementia drop by an astonishing 63%. And if it's poor, just visiting an optician for an eye test and possible treatment at least once in later life cuts your dementia odds by about the same amount.

Exactly how vision problems promote dementia is not clear but impaired vision makes it difficult to participate in mental and physical activities such as reading and exercising, as well as social activities, all believed to delay cognitive decline.

Be aware that your eyes reflect and influence how your brain is functioning, especially as you age.

Don't tolerate poor vision as often it can be corrected.

23Eat yellow curry

Why does India have one of the world's lowest rates of Alzheimer's? One theory is curry. A staple food in India, curry powder contains the yellow-orange spice turmeric, packed with curcumin - a component reported to stall memory decline. One study showed elderly Indians who ate even modest amounts of curry did better in cognitive tests.

Curcumin works by blocking the build-up of Alzheimer's-inducing amyloid plaques (deposits found in the brains of sufferers) then nibbles away at existing plaques to slow cognitive decline. It is recommended to eat two or three curries a week, and make it a yellow curry. Otherwise, sprinkle the spices on your food.

24Prevent and control diabetes

Having type 2 diabetes makes you more vulnerable to Alzheimer's.

Studies show it may double or triple your risk and the earlier diabetes takes hold, the higher the odds of dementia. Some experts refer to Alzheimer's as "diabetes of the brain".

The two disorders have similar causes - obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high fat and high sugar diets, low physical activity as well as high blood sugar.

In short, diabetes can deliver a double whammy to the brain, destroying neurons and increasing inflammation. Do everything possible to keep blood sugar levels low and stick to a low-saturated fat diet and regular exercise.

25Drink more tea

Evidence suggests that tea stalls the cognitive loss that precedes Alzheimer's and that the more tea you drink, the sharper your ageing memory is. Tea's secret is no mystery.

The leaves are packed with compounds able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and block neuronal damage. One particular green tea antioxidant can block the toxicity of beta-amyloid, which kills brain cells. Make a point of drinking black and green tea. Don't add milk, it can reduce tea's antioxidant activity by 25%.


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Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 2, 2012
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