Alzheimer's Awareness Month: Here Are 5 Ways You May Reduce Your Alzheimer's Disease Risk by Dr. Chad Larson
Alzheimer’s disease currently affects over five million Americans. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. today. In 2020, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia will cost the nation an estimated $305 billion. All of these statistics, provided by the Alzheimer’s Association, are staggering. It is no wonder Alzheimer’s was awarded an entire month of national awareness.
With September marking Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and heightened health concerns haunting us seemingly more today than ever in our lifetime, proactive health measures and disease prevention are vital topics. Let’s look at how we can turn the tide on these grueling statistics by reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The following five recommendations are scientifically proven to help:
1. Stress Reduction
According to the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, those that are prone to psychological distress have a higher risk of memory loss problems and even Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high cortisol levels, all linked to Alzheimer’s, can be reduced with stress management. Meditation, guided imagery and visualization, hypnosis, breathing exercises, massage and prayer are some suggested ways of managing and reducing stress.
2. Early Detection or Predisposition to Alzheimer's
Thanks to scientific research, there are now methods to detect one’s predisposition to an early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s LINX™ – Alzheimer’s-Associated Immune Reactivity –is one clinical test offered by Cyrex Laboratories to identify the following:
- Patients at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Reactivity to triggers of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Early stages of neurodegenerative processes.
If you or a loved one are interested in preventing the development of Alzheimer’s, are exhibiting early signs of it or have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another neurological disorder, speak with your health-care provider about this innovative clinical test.
3. Get Adequate Sleep
Even the healthiest and youngest of us have impaired focus from a lack of restful sleep. It becomes even more critical for those at risk of Alzheimer’s. Sleep rejuvenates and repairs our body and brain. We can usually recover from one bad night of sleep. But if one continues to function on lower-than-recommended amounts of sleep, appropriate for their age and individual needs, the brain will not be able to function at its highest capacity and can suffer long-term effects. However, too much sleep has also revealed a negative impact on memory and brain function. Learn what is right for you. As with all diseases, an adequate amount of sleep is key to prevention and healing. Our bodies need sleep for optimal health and rejuvenation.
Much like sleep, exercise is vital to the prevention of many diseases and the breakdown of our bodies in general. Thirty minutes of moderately vigorous aerobic exercise, three to four days per week is recommended to prevent the development and to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. Even more promising, “brain aerobics” or mental exercise can reduce your chance of developing the disease by up to 70 percent. Brain aerobics involve engaging your attention, more than one of your senses and breaking a routine activity in an unexpected, nontrivial way. An overall active lifestyle is key to optimal health and brainpower.
5. Diet: Ketoflex 12/3
Brain expert Dr. Dale Bredesen details this diet as the optimal diet for brain health in his book titled The End of Alzheimer’s. The Ketoflex 12/3 diet is one that incorporates ketosis, the process in which your liver produces specific chemicals called ketone bodies (acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone) by breaking down fat. This occurs when you are running low on carbohydrates, your body’s first source of energy.
The Ketoflex 12/3 is flexible enough to be suitable for vegetarians or omnivores. However, it is a largely plant-based diet with an emphasis on vegetables, both cooked and uncooked, especially non-starchy ones. Some fish, poultry and meat are fine, but should be consumed as a condiment, not a main course. Ideally, you would limit your consumption of meat to just a few ounces per day. Biochemically, there is some conversion to carbohydrates, and this may contribute to the very insulin resistance we are trying to reverse. Furthermore, quantity is not the only important guideline, quality is also a consideration: the type of fish or meat is important, as I’ll detail below.
The 12/3 part of Ketoflex 12/3 refers to fasting times. Fasting is a highly effective way to induce ketosis, improve insulin sensitivity and thereby enhance cognition. The 12 refers to 12 hours between the end of dinner and the next day’s first meal or snack. The 3 refers to three hours as a minimum time between the end of dinner and bedtime.
Mild ketosis and a diet rich in vegetables are optimal for cognitive function and thus, prevention of the onset or advancement of Alzheimer’s.
If we implement all of these suggestions into our daily life, we should have somewhere between a 190 to 230 percent reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s! Hmmm. Maybe it doesn’t quite calculate that way. But my brain is telling me that we all have a pretty good chance of avoiding Alzheimer’s if we follow these recommendations. As always, take a proactive approach to your wellness and seek the help of a medical professional if you have concerns.
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