Could Your Lifestyle Choices Be Increasing Your Risk for Alzheimer’s?

  • December 04, 2019

5.8 million people in this country are living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, experts believe that number will soar to 14 million. While the cause and a cure continue to elude researchers, evidence shows lifestyle may play a role in developing Alzheimer’s. If you have been diagnosed with it, lifestyle choices might help slow the progression.

What can you do to lower your risk?

Here are a few suggestions that may allow you to keep Alzheimer’s at bay.

Alzheimer’s Prevention: Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices

1. Keep moving.

While most adults know exercising for thirty minutes at least five days a week is important, fewer know the dangers of sitting too much. Even if you regularly exercise, spending the remainder of your time sitting on the couch or at your desk is just plain bad for you.

In fact, research shows a sedentary lifestyle is almost as dangerous as smoking. One health condition linked to sitting too much is type 2 diabetes. Growing research suggests Alzheimer’s might be linked to type 2 diabetes.

If you have a desk job or are performing tasks that require you to sit all day, get up and move around every hour. Many fitness trackers have the option to alert you when you’ve been sitting too long.

2. Consume a healthy diet.

Researchers say diet likely plays a role in whether you do—or don’t—develop Alzheimer’s disease. The Mediterranean Diet is often touted for its cognitive health benefits. It is modeled after how people in the Mediterranean eat.

People in these areas often live longer, healthier lives with fewer incidences of Alzheimer’s. The Mediterranean Diet is composed of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, lean protein, and little red meat.

Another option thought to help lower the risk for Alzheimer’s is the MIND Diet, considered to be a blend of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. It is more restrictive, including limiting fruit to just berries.

3. Keep learning and growing.

Just like the body needs a good workout, so does the brain. It’s essential to keep learning after you retire. Reading, writing, games, and puzzles are a few activities to engage in each day.

Other options for promoting brain health include:

  • Taking a foreign language class
  • Learning to play a new instrument
  • Writing your autobiography
  • Joining a book club
  • Debating current events

Any activity that requires learning new information gives your brain a healthy challenge.

4. Stay connected with others.

Avoiding isolation and staying engaged with the world is another way you can protect cognitive health. Make and spend time with friends. Volunteer for a nonprofit organization. Babysit the grandkids or great-grandkids. The more connected you are, the lower your likelihood of falling victim to health consequences associated with loneliness and isolation.

5. Relax and sleep well.

Experts from the Cleveland Clinic consider the combination of managing stress and sleeping well one of their six pillars of brain health. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as yoga, walking, meditating, and swimming, can result in improved sleep and brain health.

If you struggle with sleep problems, talk with your primary care physician. You may have a sleep disorder that requires medical intervention.

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