Reduce Your Risk Of Alzheimers

Get smart and reduce your risk of Alzheimers by eating a healthy diet and engaging in mental and physical exercise.

Alzheimers is a form of dementia that causes a decline in mental ability – memory, perception, thinking, problem solving and concentration.

Physical exercise

In 2005 the Lancet Neurology published results of a study by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, which found that exercising at least twice a week reduced the risk of Alzheimers disease by 60%. Exercise in the study referred to 20 minutes of (usually) walking or cycling that caused sweating and strained breath. The effect was most pronounced for people with the gene apoe4, a known risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.

A separate study by the University of Washington found that regular exercise reduced the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease by up to 40%. Even a regular gentle work-out was enough to produce a positive effect.

Although it is not known exactly why exercise helps, it is thought it increases blood flow to the parts of the brain associated with memory.

Mental exercise

A 21-year study carried out in the USA found that people who regularly took part in intellectually stimulating activities appeared to have a lower risk of developing dementia. While in Chicago, a study of 700 people found a cognitively active person in old age was 2.6 times less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's disease than a cognitively inactive person in old age.

Books, sudoku, music, plays, crossword puzzles, chess and visits to museums and galleries all contribute to brain activity. As do
“neurobics, a term devised by Dr. Lawrence Katz and Manning Rubin that refers to activities that use your senses in a different way. Examples include:

• Using your computer mouse or toothbrush with a different hand
• Closing your eyes in the shower
• Walking or driving to work a different route
• Talking to someone you don’t know
• Studying a new language

Brain food

Diet plays an important preventative role by providing key nutrients for brain function.

• Omega 3 makes up a significant portion of our brains so is top of the list for `brain foods’. Omega-3 oil is found in salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, mackerel, walnuts olive oil and eggs from free-range chickens. If concerned about levels of mercury in fish, try fish oil supplements.
• Lean protein – A Swedish study suggest people who eat more saturated animal fat in midlife double their Alzheimer's risk, especially those who are genetically vulnerable.
• Green Tea. Rich in antioxidants, just two cups a day can cut the risk of cognitive impairment by 54%.
• Sufficient water
• Organic berries, cherries and grapes-especially blueberries
• Spinach and broccoli

by Jo Buchan