Experts still aren’t entirely sure how to prevent Alzheimer’s because they’re not certain of what causes it. According to Harvard Health, there are a lot of factors that may play a role in the development of the disease, including genes, amyloid-beta production, inflammation of the brain, and vascular disease. Because Alzheimer’s manifests itself in different ways based on the individual, there are no completely proven methods of prevention.
While there are no guaranteed ways to avoid Alzheimer’s, there are a few lifestyle choices associated with overall health that can reduce your risk of developing the disease. A healthy lifestyle may just be enough to ward off encroaching cognitive issues and keep you feeling young and healthy. Let’s dive into three lifestyle choices you can make to help you prevent the disease.
Get Quality Sleep
Sleep is an important time for every part of your body to recover from the stresses of the day. The brain is no exception. Getting quality sleep—and at least 7.5 hours of it every night—allows your brain to clean out several proteins associated with Alzheimer’s that build up throughout the day. One of these proteins is called beta-amyloid, and it can manifest itself in amyloid plaques. These plaques are common in brains with Alzheimer’s, as they group themselves together and block cell-to-cell communication and cause unhealthy inflammation.
Deep sleep, defined by the time of rest when your body’s temperature drops and your brain produces small, rhythmic waves, is the most powerful defense against these Alzheimer’s proteins. Not only does deep sleep give your brain the time to wash away beta-amyloid, but it also causes it to make less of the protein in the first place. So, make sure to turn off your electronic devices at least an hour before hitting the hay and get at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night to give your brain the proper rest it needs to stay happy and healthy.
Physical activity has long been associated with the prevention of Alzheimer’s. Increasing evidence indicates that it may be so beneficial that it might even help those who are already living with the disease. Not only can aerobic exercise help slow the shrinkage of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory, but it can also help the brain clean itself out and improve other issues associated with Alzheimer’s like depression.
Experts have found that aerobic exercise is particularly beneficial when it comes to warding off cognitive decline because it increases vascular function and encourages neuron growth. Incorporate some aerobic exercise into your daily and weekly routine to set your brain up for success for years to come. You might even find a new workout that you love!
A few examples of aerobic exercise include the following:
- Walking, jogging, or running
- Jumping rope
Eat a Mediterranean Diet
A well-balanced diet is also key to a cognitively healthy life. One of the best diets out there is the Mediterranean diet because it includes a variety of nutrient-dense and lean foods. The Mediterranean diet is mainly composed of the following:
- Moderate amounts of dairy
- Limited intake of red meat
- Daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Weekly intake of protein like fish, beans, poultry, and eggs
- Healthy fats, including olive oil and fish
Not only is this diet beneficial to your heart health, but it can also help with healthy brain functioning. Consider incorporating some of these foods into your diet and reap the benefits that come along with them.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are not a normal part of aging. Tailor your lifestyle and make the necessary changes now to make sure you are getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet. You won’t regret it as you will not only feel healthier, but your body will be able to set up necessary defenses to fight against the disease.