While experts still aren’t completely sure of what causes Alzheimer’s, they agree that there are a number of steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing it in the future. In fact, researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles found that as many as 1 in 3 cases of Alzheimer’s were preventable with lifestyle changes. Here are some of our favorite tips:
Researchers have found that aerobic exercise seems to be an effective step toward preventing Alzheimer’s disease. After studying the brains of elderly adults, they found that those who participated in exercise maintained healthy cognitive function, while those who did not exercise at all experienced a slight cognitive decline. Experts think that this is because exercise increases oxygen and blood flow to the brain.
Adopt a Healthier Diet
While changing your diet can be challenging, research shows it’s certainly worth it. Scientists have found that eating a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, or the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), can reduce future cognitive impairment by up to 35%. Additionally, you can take supplements like vitamin C, vitamin E, and folic acid, and omega-3s, which have all been shown to reduce the risk of memory loss and Alzheimer’s.
Keep Stress to a Minimum
Easier said than done, but this one’s still important. Studies indicate an association between the byproducts of stress like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high cortisol, and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, it’s important to participate in stress-reducing practices like meditation and yoga, which can actually improve your focus, memory, and overall mental function.
Get Enough Sleep
A recent study on the association between sleep and Alzheimer’s demonstrated that just one night of sleep deprivation leads to an increase in beta-amyloid, which is a protein that’s associated with developing the disease. If there was ever a good excuse to make sure you get your full 8-10 hours, this is it.
Experts have found that maintaining social engagement later in life can decrease one’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s. Social interaction has been shown to maintain brain vitality by stimulating the brain. Researchers also think that social groups reinforce healthy behaviors, such as exercise and reduced stress, so they’re beneficial in multiple ways. While maintaining social relationships is important throughout life, it’s especially important in later adulthood when one is no longer working, and therefore likely to have less social interaction.