Despite ongoing research, currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s, affects over 5 million Americans. While an estimated 5.2 million people are age 65 and old and often seen as an “elderly disease”, approximately 200,000 individuals are under the age of 65 and are diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. While memory loss is one of the major signs of Alzheimer’s, it can affect each individual differently.
According to the National Institute on Aging, when Alzheimer’s occurs, there is a loss of connections between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. Neurons are responsible for transmitting messages between different parts of the brain and from the brain to muscles and organs in the body. As neurons become damaged and die, the hippocampus (responsible for memory) is typically the first part of the brain to be affected, but damage can spread, ultimately shrinking the brain.
Although there is no cure, some treatments may slow down the progress and while there are many factors that can contribute to Alzheimer’s, some researchers believe that the disease can be prevented. While the disease itself remains a mystery and the research is a constant work of progress, here are some tips to keeping your brain healthy and possibly prevent Alzheimer’s disease:
Exercise is an important component to being healthy and regardless of your age, it’s never too late to take charge of your health. Not only can regular exercise reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but it may also prevent Alzheimer’s disease, as it can stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain old network connections and make new ones that are vital to healthy cognition. Research reveals that after a year long study, older participants who exercised on a daily basis showed improved connectivity in the part of the brain that engages in daydreaming, envisioning the future, or recalling the past. They also had an easier time plan and organize tasks.
Like exercise, eating well can benefit your mind and body, overall. Every couple of months, there seems to be new research surrounding diets or “super” food and it can be overwhelming. Is that extra cup of coffee actually good for you? How about that glass of red wine? Experts recommend to try out the MIND Diet, which is a combination of a heart healthy and Mediterranean diet.
In addition to regular exercise and eating well, some research has shown that staying social and engaging in intellectual activities may prevent or slow Alzheimer’s. Whether you enroll in a continued education class or meet with friends on a regular basis, stay active and do things that will challenge your brain.
Researches have also noticed a strong correlation between brain injury and memory loss issues, therefore, it’s important to protect your head whenever you engage in a physical activity such as riding a bicycle or playing a contact sport. Additionally, make sure your home is free from tripping and slipping hazards to reduce the risk of falling and causing an injury to your head.