It’s one of the most-asked questions in current medicine: How do I prevent Alzheimer’s disease?
Early prevention shows great promise for lowering the risk of cognitive decline. The sooner prevention can start, the better the outcome.
What’s more, these methods can result in a boost in wellness starting right now. Here are the top research-backed strategies to prevent Alzheimer’s.
Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease
What is the primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease? Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple, single primary cause for Alzheimer’s disease.
Research points to two major players. One is the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque and tau tangles, causing death in brain cells and cognitive decline as it builds up in the brain. The second most likely root cause of Alzheimer’s is inflammation.
However, there are many factors that can contribute to this disease. Dr. Dale Bredesen researched this disease for 40 years and found some cumulative factors, referred to as “holes in the roof.”
He likens Alzheimer’s disease to a flooded home — the fewer holes in the roof that allows rainwater to build up, the lower the risk of an uncontrollable deluge.
Bredesen’s research shows that addressing these risk factors can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, particularly in the decades before the disease presents symptoms.
These causes and contributing factors that lead to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s include:
- Advanced age
- Genetic predisposition and family history (these account for only 1% of cases)
- Chronic diseases associated with vascular injury
- Inflammatory diet
- Heavy metal toxicity
- Chronic stress
- Sleep issues
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Hormone imbalances
- Head injury
- Dysbiotic gut microbiome
- Gum disease
- Female gender
- Cellular function problems
As you can see, a host of underlying factors affect brain health and increase the risk of dementia in older adults. However, it’s possible to alter choices earlier in life for Alzheimer’s prevention.
Since this disease is multifactorial, there is no one main cause that can be prevented. That means that in order to lower your risk, more holistic lifestyle changes are your best bet.
Prevention Begins Decades Before Symptoms
How can dementia be prevented? Dementia may potentially be prevented by choosing a healthy lifestyle in your physical activity, eating habits, oral hygiene, and even personal relationships.
These decisions can pay off not only in a happier, healthier middle age, but also for your brain later in life. Getting an early start, even from young adulthood, is the most effective strategy in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
However, if you’re past your 40s and still wanting to stave off late-onset Alzheimer’s, it’s never too late to make these alterations to your lifestyle and promote brain health.
5 Strategies to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Many strategies to prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are based around lifestyle-related changes. All of these will not only result in a lower risk of impaired cognitive function, but also improve your health today.
The Alzheimer’s Association states that preventative action can be taken to effectively reduce the risk of developing AD.
How can you prevent Alzheimer’s naturally? You can prevent Alzheimer’s naturally with healthy eating, lowering stress, improving heart health, getting enough mental and physical activity, and maintaining good oral hygiene.
The 5 most effective strategies to prevent Alzheimer’s disease naturally are:
- Healthy eating
- Lowering stress
- Improving heart wellness
- Mental and physical activity
- Proper oral hygiene
1. Healthy Eating
What foods fight dementia? Nutrient-dense foods that reduce inflammation lower your risk of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s.
Eating habits for fighting Alzheimer’s with a healthy diet include:
- Increasing your intake of certain nutrients, like vitamin B12, vitamin D3, folic acid, and zinc. All of these fight off inflammation, a key trigger for Alzheimer’s. Plus, B12 lowers homocysteine levels associated with AD.
- Eating more antioxidants. Berries, leafy greens like kale and spinach, and cruciferous vegetables like brussels sprouts and broccoli are all whole foods packed with antioxidants.
- Lowering your sugar intake. Sugars feed inflammation, and your brain loses the ability to properly burn them in Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, some researchers have begun referring to the disease as “type 3 diabetes” due to its effects on insulin resistance in the brain.
- 12-hour fasting periods. Bredesen’s recommended diet is a pattern of eating whole foods, healthy fats, and lean proteins that prevents Alzheimer’s. The diet also recommends 12-hour periods of not eating to give your brain time to enter autophagy, the body’s natural “self-cleaning” window that occurs during sleep and periods of fasting of at least 12 hours.
Some other schools of thought recommend the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in whole grains, olive oil, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Other diets that may support Alzheimer’s prevention include the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and the MIND diet, a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets.
While there is research to support some efficacy, the best results are likely to be achieved with the Bredesen diet, which is a form of ketogenic eating with set fasting windows.
2. Lowering Stress
Lowering your stress levels will not only benefit your mental health and well-being, but it will also lower your risk of Alzheimer’s. Research has found a link between depression and stress and the onset of AD.
Ideas for lowering stress may include:
- Mindfulness practices like meditation and breath exercises
- Getting enough sleep (another important element in Alzheimer’s prevention)
- Spending time with a loved one, particularly if you can have a good laugh
3. Improving Heart Wellness
There is a strong tie between the health of your heart and your odds of developing AD. Individuals with high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure during their middle age are at a much higher risk of dementia.
To improve heart wellness and avoid heart disease that’s linked to Alzheimer’s, there are several things you can do. Stay away from processed red meat, maintain a healthy BMI, and practice gratitude.
Other tips on this list, like physical activity, an anti-inflammatory diet, and lower stress, can also contribute to a healthy heart.
4. Mental and Physical Activity
An active mind and body are hugely important lifestyle choices in preventing Alzheimer’s. Sedentary habits, either mentally or physically, have been shown to result in decreased cognition and increased risk of AD.
What activities prevent Alzheimer’s? Physical activity can prevent Alzheimer’s, such as walking 30 minutes a day to increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Making small choices toward physical exercise like taking the stairs, parking farther away, or investing in a pedometer can work toward this goal.
For mental activity, actively challenge yourself with crossword puzzles, retaining friendships and social activities, and finding opportunities for problem solving.
5. Oral Hygiene
There is a strong link in between gum disease and AD, so good oral hygiene is perhaps surprisingly among the top prevention strategies for Alzheimer’s.
Brushing twice a day, flossing nightly, and getting regular dental checkups can stop the bacteria that causes gum disease from making its way to the brain. This prevents the amyloid-beta deposits and inflammation that it may cause.
Can Alzheimer’s disease be prevented? Yes, many cases of Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented with early action and lifestyle changes.
While these changes are beneficial at any age, the importance of early action in Alzheimer’s prevention cannot be overstated. The sooner you can implement these strategies, the less likely you are to hear that dreaded Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
What can you take to prevent Alzheimer’s? You can take conscious action in your health and lifestyle to prevent Alzheimer’s, though there are also medications available.
Every individual has their own health story, and personalized guidance on how to prevent Alzheimer’s is invaluable. That’s why we have our Group Medical Visit program, which tailors a prevention approach based on your labs and lifestyle, and the Bredesen Medical Protocol.
The prevention program offers a group of 10-15 people to learn along with and a virtual setting. Schedule your phone consultation with us to talk about the program and begin your early Alzheimer’s prevention plan.
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