Alzheimer's disease is cruel: it robs the patient of his dignity and sense of self. It robs the family of the person they loved and burdens them with years of care. While the exact cause of the illness is unknown, research suggests that there are steps you can take to risk your risk of developing it.
- Follow a Mediterranean diet that is rich in fish, whole grains, vegetables, and olive oil. At the same time, avoid a diet rich in processed meats, sugars, trans fats, and refined grains. Research suggests that adhering to a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of developing this condition. The healthier your diet is, the lower your risk of getting Alzheimer's.
- Exercise on a regular basis. People who remain physically active reduce their risk of this disease significantly. You don't have to be a marathon runner. Instead, find activities you enjoy and engage in them as often as possible. Race walk along the beach at sunrise. Dance. Bicycle. Swim in the ocean. Get together with your buddies and play basketball or soccer.
- Avoid drugs that interfere with the cholinergic system--the system that is responsible for the formation of memory. In particular, avoid those antihistamines that have cholinergic effects. Ask your doctor about safer drugs to treat allergies.
- Maintain a healthy weight in order to avoid developing type II diabetes. Diabetes is a risk factor for this illness.
- Find ways to treat depression. Studies show that people suffering from major depression are more likely to develop AD, possibly because both are inflammatory disorders.
- Wear proper safety gear to prevent head injuries, which are also a risk factor. Wear seat belts when you drive and bicycle helmets while cycling.
- Don't rely on magic bullets. To date, all of the studies on carnitine, vitamin supplements, gingko and other supplements have failed to show good results. Occasionally, some study will show an effect, but too often, those studies have been small and poorly conducted. The best studies don't show much of an effect.
Remember, there is no easy way to prevent Alzheimer's disease. You can't gulp a pill or some other supplement. The trick to reduce your risk is to make small choices--to eat well, to exercise--every day.