3 Ways to Help Lower Your Risk of Alzheimer’s

Tips for lowering your risk of Alzheimer's

When you’re in your 30s and 40s, the possibility of Alzheimer’s disease seems like a long way off, which makes it easy to put off thinking about lowering your risk. But that approach is a mistake.

The only way to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s is to take steps to improve your health and lifestyle long before the neurological changes leading to the disease begin. The experts call it a “life-course approach” to Alzheimer’s, making the point that the earlier you start, the better your chances of avoiding the disease.

The doctors at Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles are here to help. As experts in neurodegenerative dementias like Alzheimer’s, we work with each person, assessing their risk factors, and creating a lifestyle plan that promotes ongoing health.

Alzheimer’s risk factors you can’t change

Age is one of the top risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Of course, you can’t get around aging, which is one reason why it’s so important to begin paying attention to modifiable risk factors in young and mid-adulthood.

Several inherited genetic mutations also increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, but here’s the thing to remember: These genes don’t necessarily define your future. You can influence and change your genetic risk factors through diet and lifestyle choices. Let’s talk about three ways you can lower your risk.

1. Prevent chronic disease to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s

Your chances of developing Alzheimer’s go up when you’re diagnosed with chronic disease in midlife or earlier, especially diseases that affect your cardiovascular health. You can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s when you prevent diseases such as:

These conditions develop over years of following an unhealthy lifestyle. For example, blood sugar levels don’t suddenly jump from normal to high enough to qualify as full-blown diabetes. You go through a transitional stage when your blood sugar is slightly higher than normal — a warning sign that diabetes is on the horizon.

At that stage, you can prevent the disease with lifestyle changes that bring blood sugar levels back to normal. The same concept of early intervention to prevent the problem works for all the chronic diseases on the list.  

Restricting your daily calories, eating nutrient-rich foods, and getting regular exercise are the key components for preventing all chronic diseases. Beyond those steps, the lifestyle changes you need to make depend on which chronic disease you’re working to prevent.

Losing weight is essential for preventing diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. You’ll need to limit your carbohydrate intake to avoid Type 2 diabetes, and increasing your daily fiber helps fend off high cholesterol.

2. Physical activity may prevent Alzheimer’s and slow its progression

There’s a long list of health benefits gained from regular exercise. It helps control weight, strengthens your heart, improves circulation, and lowers your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Exercise works wonders for your mood, eases stress, and helps you sleep better.

The list of benefits doesn’t stop there. Staying active stimulates the release of biochemicals that improve brain function. Studies show that exercise can prevent Alzheimer’s disease and more — aerobic exercise may help slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s after it develops.

3. Dietary choices may reduce your chance of developing Alzheimer’s

It turns out that a heart-healthy diet also protects your brain’s health. The key is to choose foods that are packed with certain protective nutrients, such as colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are among the best nutrients for brain health.

A study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia found that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s went down when patients followed the DASH diet, Mediterranean diet, or MIND diet, which combines aspects from the other two programs. Each diet has unique requirements, but they all emphasize eating vegetables, fruits, fish, and nuts.

Although research into the impact of dietary antioxidants and their impact on Alzheimer’s is still in its infancy, studies so far suggest that antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene may protect your brain from free radical damage that contributes to dementia.

If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s and need a plan to lower your risk of developing the disease, or you’d like to learn your risk factors, the doctors at Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles can help — call or book an appointment online.

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