Lower Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia

In 1956 I spent a small fortune on a set of aluminum cookware and beautiful aluminum coffeemaker. Shortly thereafter I received a phone call from my father in Pennsylvania. He told me how he just read about how dangerous aluminum could be for the brain.  He said that it could build up in the brain and cause major problems. He told me to note what happened, when I cooked tomatoes in an aluminum pot. There was a visible change in the pot’s appearance; tomatoes were great at leaching aluminum out. I didn’t want to chance hurting my family or myself, so I threw out the entire expensive set.

In 1961 I became friends with a lady who was using an aluminum coffeemaker . I told her about the toxicity of the aluminum. However, she didn’t take me seriously and failed to heed my warning. We were friends for many years – and sad to say this woman developed Alzheimer’s in her early fifties. She eventually died from this disease.

Over the years more information surfaced on the dangers of aluminum.. Many learned about the toxicity of anti-acids and antiperspirants that contained aluminum. How many know about the danger of using aluminum to wrap up food leftovers? I am really glad that I listened to my father.

There are more than four million people in the United States who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.Many researchers today also attribute an increase in Alzheimer’s to mercury, which is prevalent in seafood, dental amalgams, vaccines, but there are other causes. Smoking and heavy drinking are two of the most preventable risk factors for Alzheimer’s. Not only does smoking increase the odds for those over 65 by nearly 79%, but researchers at Miami’s Mt. Sinai Medical Center warn that a combination of these two behaviors reduces the age of Alzheimer’s onset by six to seven years. When smoking stops, the brain benefits from improved circulation almost immediately, no matter our age. However, brain changes from alcohol abuse can only be reversed in its early stages.

For many years we were told that there was little we could do to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. All we could do was hope for the best and wait for a pharmaceutical cure. However, the truth is much more encouraging. New research reveals that lifestyle factors play a major role in protecting your brain as you age. The risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can be reduced by eating right, exercising, staying mentally and socially active, and lowering one’s stress. By leading a brain-healthy lifestyle the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease could be eliminated entirely, slowed down or even reversed.

The six Keys to a brain-healthy lifestyle:

* 1. Regular exercise: It reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 50%.  It slows further deterioration in those who have started developing Alzheimer’s. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five times a week; walking, swimming or any other activity that gets your heart rate up. Even routine activities such as, gardening, cleaning or doing laundry count as exercise.

* 2. Healthy diet: Your brain needs a healthy nutritious diet to function well. Focus on eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and heart-healthy omega fats. Evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Food sources include cold water fish such as, salmon, herring and sardines. Fish oil is not recommended as it turns rancid rapidly. Avoid trans fats and saturated fats by avoiding full-fat dairy products, red meat, fast food, fried foods, and packaged and processed foods. Eating 4 – 6 small meals throughout the day, rather than 3 large ones; helps to keep the blood sugar levels steady Also avoid refined carbohydrates, which spike glucose levels and inflame your brain. Daily servings of berries and green leafy vegetables are very important for the brain. Green and white teas – 2 to 4 cups daily have proven benefits. Coffee also confers lesser benefits. Supplements are important too, as most foods don’t contain all the nutrients we need.

3. Mental stimulation: Those who continue learning new things throughout life and keep challenging their brains are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Make it a point to stay mentally active. In essence, “you need to use it or lose it.” Activities such as multiple tasks or requiring communication, interaction and organization offer the greatest protection. Set aside time each day to stimulate your brain with these brain-boosting activities: Learn something new, such as, a language, playing a musical instrument, reading the newspaper or a good book, or taking up a new hobby. Practice memorization, such as the 50 U.S. State capitals. Enjoy games, do crossword puzzles and riddles. Keep a journal to help you remember. Write down the details of your every day experiences to challenge your memory. Learn something new every day.

4. Quality sleep: Your brain needs regular, restful sleep in order to function optimally. Sleep deprivation impairs your ability to think, problem-solve, and process, store and recall information. Deep, dream-filled sleep is critical for memory formation and retention. Nightly sleep deprivation slows down one’s thinking and affects one’s mood; setting one up for a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The majority of adults needs at least 8 hours of sleep nightly. In order to combat insomnia go to bed and get up at the same time to reinforce your natural circadian rhythms. If insomnia is a problem for you, don’t take naps. Ban television and computers from the bedroom. Reserve your bed for sleeping. Create relaxing bedtime rituals. Take a hot shower, write in your journal and then out with the light.

5. Stress Management: Stress that is chronic or severe takes a heavy toll on the brain, leading to shrinkage in a key memory area of the brain known as the hippocampus. Stress hampers nerve cell growth and increases your risk of Alzheimer’s. Get your stress levels under control with these proven techniques: Breathe! Stress alters your breathing and impacts oxygen levels in the brain. Quiet your stress response with deep, abdominal breathing. Make relaxation a priority, whether it’s a stroll in the park, walking your dog, yoga or a chemical-free soak in the tub. Nourish inner peace. Regular meditation, prayer or reflection on a daily basis can help lower stress.

6. An active social life: Human beings are highly social creatures. They need the mental stimulation of being with others. Many times as people age, they become isolated from others. Studies show that the more connected people are, the better they fare on tests of memory and cognition.  In order to connect: volunteer, join a club or social group, visit a local community center, take a class, telephone friends or email them, get to know your neighbors, make a weekly date with friends, get out to the movies, the museum, the park, etc. Commit to spending quality time with family members and friends on a regular basis. Find something you enjoy doing together, whether it is going to the theater, dance lessons, daily walk or sharing a morning coffee. Try new things, such as going to a new restaurant or going on a day trip to a place you’ve never been before. Keeping up with social activities will keep your brain stimulated.

There are studies being done now with certain supplements, such as:

Alpha Lipoic Acid: New research has identified ALA as a critical nutrient in the treatment of AD.For example, one study found that alpha lipoid acid protects against Alzheimer’s by preventing oxidative stress and free radical production. In this study 600 mgs of alpha lipoid acid was given daily to patients with Alzheimer’s disease for roughly a year, helping to stabilize the condition. Alpha lipoid acid and vitamin E work synergistically to prevent free radical damage to brain cells during strokes according to new research. Therefore take 300 – 600 IU of natural vitamin E, in conjunction with alpha lipoid acid. Natural vitamin E must be used; not synthetic.

Acetyl L-Carnitine: Recent studies show that Alzheimer’s patients do not have sufficient amounts of Acetyl L-Carnitine in their bodies. Acetyl L-Carnitine works by preventing the build-up of amyloid plaque that damages brain tissues, thought to be a cause of Alzheimer’s. A new study shows that acetyl L-Carnitine helps control amyloid plaque by inhibiting free radical action and preserving energy production in the brain. Giving patients Acetyl L-Carnitine was shown to slow down the progress of Alzheimer’s. However, Acetyl L-Carnitine supplements are very expensive. If your liver is functioning normally, a less expensive and more natural way to increase the Acetyl l- Carnitine in your body is by eating lysine-rich foods, such as, dark meat organic chicken, mercury-free fish, chickpeas or by using, Solgar’s L-Lysine supplements. Start by taking one capsule per day and over two weeks work up to 4 capsules per day, 2 in the morning and 2 in the evening. Additionally, the following supplements help the body produce lysine:

Vitamin C Complex (Solgar), organic chia seeds for a rich source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and a high quality B Complex.

If you are undergoing treatment with a doctor, make sure that these supplements are acceptable and won’t interfere with any medication. Also avoid medications whose side affects destroy brain cells. Make sure you read the prescribing literature that comes with any medication you are using.

Minimize Glycation and the Production of AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products):   Glycation is a process where sugar and protein combine to form a tangled mess of tissue. Glycated tissue is tough and the molecules are inflexible, leading to wrinkling not only of the skin, but also of important internal organs. Furthermore, glycated tissues then produce AGED advanced glycation End-Products.

How does one minimize glycation which results in the formation of amyloid protein in the brain contributing to plaque or tangles? To minimize this glycation (and thus the production of AGEs) is by drastically lowering sugar intake.Unfortunately, most food today contains sugar or corn syrup. Corn syrup is to be found the worst in triggering glycation in the brain. It is best to use an herbal sweetener, such as, stevia for even pure maple syrup and honey have excessive sugar.

Exercise is necessary in preventing Alzheimer’s. It helps reduce the amount of blood sugar and it also increases blood circulation to all the body, including the brain. This reduces glycation and the production of AGEs, which contribute to the formation of amyloid proteins in the brain.

Endogenous glycation, which occurs in the body is associated with increased oxidative damage. For that matter, AGEs and their by-products are linked to many other age-related diseases, along with Alzheimer’s. AGEs age the human body faster than nature intended. Studies have shown certain nutrients may serve as glycation inhibitors, such as, calcium pyruvate and carnosine. They help in breaking down glycated proteins. Certain plant extracts have also been studied for their potential to prevent glycation. Among those showing promising results are cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, cumin and green tea.

Two Main Causes of Glycation:

* 1. High Glucose Level
* 2. Eating Foods Cooked at High Temperature: Over 250 degrees

High Glucose Level: Continually high blood glucose promotes glycation as well as other aging processes and degenerative diseases. If glycation is to be reduced, then so must the intake of sugar from the diet. High sugar foods include potatoes, rice, pasta, and all grains (including bread).

Food manufacturers have added AGEs to foods, especially in the last fifty years, as flavor enhancers and colorants to improve appearance. Foods with significant browning, carmelization, or directly added preformed AGEs can be exceptionally high in the pro-inflammatory and disease-initiating compounds. A very partial listing: donuts, cake, baked goods, french fries, barbecued meats, dark colored soda pop and even coffee.

Yes, there are some good answers available now. Yes, there are things we can do to slow down or halt the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. I don’t know anything worse than slowly losing all of one’s faculties and bodily functions. We do need to use this information to prevent this happening to us or the ones we love..

Healthfully Yours,

Barbara Charis

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