We often joke about developing dementia: You can hide your own Easter eggs or Bad news: “you have Alzheimer’s”; good news: “you can go home and forget about it”. There is a poem about aging with these lines:
I've got used to my arthritis, to dentures I'm resigned,Seriously, most people would rather lose their vision, hearing or ability to walk than lose their mind. So what can we do to reduce our risk of developing dementia?
I can manage my bifocals, but oh how I miss my mind.
• Reduce sugar. High sugar consumption leads to insulin resistance including at the blood-brain barrier. This prevents insulin from reaching the brain and starves your brain cells of glucose. We can compensate with ketones from medium chain triglycerides such as from coconut oil, but prevention is better.
• Avoid diabetes. Diagnosis of diabetes doubles your risk of Alzheimer’s. Even mild elevation of blood sugar (100-110) significantly increases the risk.
• Consume enough good fats (including some saturated fat). A study from the Mayo Clinic found that a high carb diet was associated with an 89% increased risk for dementia while a high fat diet was associated with a 44% reduced risk.
• Keep your weight down. Obesity is an important risk factor.
• Exercise. Aerobic exercise has been found to reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s and also to improve brain function in those already diagnosed. Exercise reduces the amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s and improves memory.
• Don’t smoke and avoid excessive use of alcohol.
• Control blood pressure. High blood pressure is another risk factor for dementia.
• Get enough quality sleep. The brain’s waste removal system only works during deep sleep when the brain is flushed with cerebral spinal fluid which removes the amyloid plaques in brain tissue.
• Stay mentally and socially active. “Use it or lose it” applies to our brains as well as muscles & bones. Playing games like Scrabble, chess or bridge helps to keep the brain sharp and keeps you connected to people.
While none of these are guaranteed to prevent Alzheimer’s, following as many as you can should significantly increase your chances of keeping all your marbles to the end.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.