There's no guarantee that living as healthfully as possible will prevent Alzheimer's disease. But simple lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of developing the disease.
The Alzheimer's Association offers these suggestions to reduce the risk:
- Be heart smart. High blood pressure, heart disease and stroke are risk factors for dementia. What's good for the heart is also good for the mind. Control body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar to help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Adopt a brain-healthy diet. Research suggests that high cholesterol might contribute to stroke and brain-cell damage. A low-fat, low-cholesterol diet is a good idea. There is growing evidence that a diet rich in dark vegetables and fruits, which contain anti-oxidants, may help protect brain cells.
- Stay physically active. Exercise is essential for maintaining good blood flow to the brain and encouraging growth of new brain cells. It can also significantly reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, so it protects against those risk factors for Alzheimer's and other dementias.
- Stay mentally active. Mentally stimulating activities strengthen brain cells and the connections between them and may even create new nerve cells.
- Remain socially involved. Social activity not only makes physical and mental activity more enjoyable but also reduces stress levels, which helps maintain healthy connections among brain cells.
(c) 2004, Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.