With Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia on the increase in the UK, US and around the world, researchers are eagerly searching for the causes of these conditions, which trigger rapid mental decline and eventual death.
For most people, the idea of losing their memory of who they once were, and of all their loved ones, is a scary one. However, most people don’t realize that Alzheimer’s also results in loss of life. The average life expectancy from the time someone is diagnosed is only 5 to 7 years. That being the case, anything you can do to keep your memory sharp and boost your brain health is a step in the right direction.
The first cornerstone is diet, of course, as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that those with Alzheimer’s tend to also have many of the chronic conditions associated with aging, including:
- coronary heart disease
- hardening of the arteries
- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
A growing body of research is also starting to show that diets high in carbohydrates such as unrefined white sugar and white flour not only contributes to Type 2 diabetes, but Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia as well. In fact, some scientists have started to label white sugar ‘white death’ because of its damaging impact upon brain health.
A Mediterranean diet is not just protective in terms of heart health, but brain health as well. Fish is known to be ‘brain food’ due to its vitamins and minerals. Omega-3 fatty acids help both heart and brain health.
The Okinawan diet is another good diet to follow for anyone interested not just in long life, but also continuing mental sharpness. Their diet is predominantly made up of sweet potatoes, including purple ones, and small amounts of protein from fish, tofu and nuts.
An organic diet will reduce your exposure to brain-damaging chemicals. A gluten-free diet, and one rich in fresh, natural foods has also been shown to improve memory.
In terms of one’s overall lifestyle, there are a number of ways to keep your memory sharp no matter what your age. These include:
- Get high-quality sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid mercury
- Avoid aluminium
- Steer clear of statins
- Watch out for OTCs and Rx drugs
- Avoid antacids
Get high-quality sleep
Everyone needs enough sleep each night to refresh both body and mind. Eight hours, and no more than 9, is optimal. High-quality sleep is sleep where one feels refreshed afterwards, not tired any more.
Regular exercise, such as taking 10,000 steps per day, about 3.5 to 5 miles, will keep you fit, but with little chance of injury. Exercise also enhances mood, lowers stress, and gets you out in the sun (put on sunscreen), which increases the production of Vitamin D in your body/ Vitamin D is a building block for your hormones and other key substances in your body that help maintain your overall health.
Mercury is commonly found in silver amalgam dental fillings. It is also high in canned tuna, so eat no more than 2 servings per week, 3 days apart.
If you have any old pots with a whitish-looking film on the inside, get rid of them at once. Also steer clear of non-stick cookware, which can contain chlorine as well.
Try cast iron, stainless steel, or enamel on steel cookware such as the Le Creuset brand of products. Yes, they are expensive, but consider them an investment in your kitchen and your health. “Treat” each pan you buy according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and it should give you decades of use from oven or stovetop to table.
Steer clear of statins
Statin drugs are the #1 most commonly prescribed class of drugs in the world, and affect the liver and the way your body processes the food you eat and therefore the way nutrients are absorbed. These include vital Omega-3s and the enzyme Co-Q10, essential for heart health and the transmission of important signals in the brain.
Watch out for OTCs and Rx drugs
- night-time pain relievers
- sleep aids
- certain anti-depressants
- incontinence medications
- narcotic pain relievers
- high blood pressure medications
- drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease
Steer clear of antacids such as Pepto-Bismal. They not only rob memory, they can also disguise the symptoms of a heart attack until it is too late.
These are just a few of the many ways you can maintain your brain health in order to keep your memory sharp well into your senior years.