Memories, the good, the bad, and the ugly make us who we are. Imagine each one of those precious memories being chipped away from you slowly, one at a time until eventually there is nothing left of the person you once were. Unable to recall a life filled with laughter, love, accomplishments and yes even loss, you eventually forget how to perform even the simplest of tasks. That is the curse of Alzheimer’s disease, the most feared form of dementia. Here are some ways you can protect the brain.
Silence is golden but well-intentioned social interaction is divine. They are not mutually exclusive entities. Social interaction does not mean partying like a rock star, at least not all the time. It refers to well-placed relationships that nourish, support, and encourage you. Research and experience tell us that the brain responds remarkably well to that. Supportive relationships measurably decrease inflammation, improve moods and help brain cells to communicate more effectively with each other.
In my opinion, part of looking for the cure for Alzheimer’s has to be investing in education on lifestyle modifications and chronic disease management that support healthy brain function. It is all part of the #befabulouslyflawed movement.
It is estimated that Alzheimer’s affects over 5 million people and by the year 2050, over 16 million people will be afflicted. Research is seeking a cure but until then or maybe even then, I will be advocating for prevention. Prevention doesn’t mean it will never happen to you, just like wearing a seatbelt doesn’t mean you will never get into an accident: it simply means you are doing what you can to stack the odds in your favor.
Know Your Risk Factors
There are several conditions that have been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, these conditions together account for slightly more than 50 percent of cases. Conditions are Sedentary lifestyle, diet, diabetes, high cholesterol, tobacco, excessive alcohol, depression, heart disease, and kidney disease. From this list, you will recognize many conditions that have been shown to respond to lifestyle interventions.
Keep Your Brain Active
Mental gymnastics are just as important as physical gymnastics. The beauty is it can be as simple as doing a math problem, crossword puzzle, taking a class just for fun, or just playing a game of cards. Be creative- read a book based in Montmartre art district in France, then meet with your book club in the park with easel and brushes (crayons work too) in hand, discuss where the lovers went wrong while capturing the beautiful scenery on your canvas. Heck, speak in a French accent if it moves you. Studies suggest creativity, art, and music can protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease.
Stock up on the Vegetables, Fruits, Healthy Fats and Spices
Eating a diet high in antioxidants, low in sugars and refined carbohydrates and void of trans fats can go a long way in protecting the brain. High sugars and high trans and saturated fats damage that delicate part of the brain that is responsible for a lot of our short-term memory. According to JAMA neurology, the dietary pattern associated with a lower risk included higher amounts of green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, fruits, fish, nuts, and a lower amount of high-fat dairy, red and organ meats. This diet provides flavonoids that scavenge damaging free radicals while reducing inflammation. Great one, two punch. Check out my favorite healthy recipes to encourage healthy eating habits.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, exercise improves brain function, protects process brain cells, and even helps us to regrow new ones. Pick an activity that works for you. Consistency is the key. It’s never too late to work on hand, and eye coordination!