It is not a big secret that living a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and eating properly has promising rewards for an expected longer active life. But what if you were confronted with the notion of possibly getting Alzheimers disease? Is this a subject to even be concerned about? Would it be worth looking a little more into? Another important question is there even any case studies that have been proven to aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease? I was asking myself these questions, six years ago, and many more when my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. So, living a healthier lifestyle became a more prevalent choice for us.
According to the Alzheimers Association, this disease is affecting fifty-five million Americans as of this year, and these numbers continue to grow 65 seconds of every day. Alzheimers Association also states that Alzheimers is listed as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Which, to me, I believe, that is extremely alarming. I think that would be worth taking the time out to research more about the subject. It also has been stated in their recent research, between the years 2000 and 2019, the deaths from heart disease have decreased by nine percent while the deaths from Alzheimers have increased by one-hundred and forty-five percent. That information also took me completely by surprise. When I further read that it is projected by the year 2025, there will be an almost twenty-seven percent increase from this year through next year. These are the facts and figures, I found listed in their annual report on the Alzheimers Association website. (2019, Alzheimers Disease Facts and Figures 19-27) The growth of Alzheimers and dementia-related cases, there are a large growing number of new theories and successful research studies available. With this research available, it suggests that people can greatly decrease their risk by making simple lifestyle changes. This can be done by partaking in regular physical activities, maintaining an active social life and have good heart health. Making these simple changes can reduce the risk of attaining Alzheimers and dementia-related diseases. (2019)
Dr. Jonathan Graff-Radford (2018) stated, the Mediterranean diet has been associated with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, it is also linked to improved cognition. The Mediterranean diet consists of eating fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. This diet also uses olive oil for the main healthy fat in cooking any of the meals. Sofi, Macchi, Abbate, Gensini, Cassini also confirms their research that the Mediterranean diet does have favorable health outcomes. (Sofi 800) The Alzheimers Association also mentions the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). The DASH diet also consists of fresh vegetables, fruits, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. However, it only limits the amount of sodium, sweets, sugary beverages and red meats. (2019) Both the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet is listed on the Alzheimers Association website under the prevention section. By consuming a healthy diet that’s rich in these fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish (mostly recommended) and shellfish, because it is a great source containing the omega 3 fatty acids, has shown to decrease Alzheimers disease. (2019)
Diet set aside, the question now is, by taking part in physical exercise and being socially active play an important role in help keeping the brain healthy? Graff-Radford (2018) specified that physical activity seems to help your brain not only by keeping the blood flowing but also by increasing chemicals that protect the brain. Graff-Radford also suggests that by keeping the thinking, reasoning, and learning skills sharp and using cognitive skills while being socially active shows promising results. (Graff-Radford) Bernardo, Marques, Beleza, Oliveira, Ascensao, and Magalhaes suggests, in their research, by keeping and staying fit is one of the best possible and one of the most effective approaches in keeping a strong and healthy mind. They also state that it has a positive effect in helping with the brains plasticity, thus reducing the risk of Alzheimers and other dementia related diseases later in life. (654) The Alzheimers Association also shares and confirm these studies as well as several other studies which show the same results.
Beyond regular exercise, a healthy diet, and being socially active, the Alzheimers Association suggests a few more things to aid in Alzheimers prevention. First, avoid brain type of injuries by wearing a helmet for sport related activities, and a seat belt while driving. Second, get enough sleep, and if possible, take power naps. Third, quit smoking, which will also benefit in several other ways. Finally, if aware or might suspect depression or anxiety, if addressed will help in more ways than just Alzheimers disease.
So, in closing, by maintaining social connections, keeping mentally active, eating healthy, and exercising as we age, it will lower the risk of cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia related diseases. Even though Alzheimers disease continues to grow, so does the research of todays credited doctors and scientists. With recognizing the growth of Alzheimers and dementia related diseases the prospect to slow, stop or reverse the development of this growing disease is looking optimistic. This research makes me feel reassured and hopeful for the future.