Our Goal – Age Gracefully with Mental Capacities Intact

June 12, 2018 in Health, Uncategorized by Joyce Bunderson

Watching someone gradually ‘slip away’ into the grips of Alzheimer’s disease is a sobering experience. Many of us have considerable fear of this happening to us; but what surprises me is that it doesn’t appear that most people understand that less than 1% of the Alzheimer’s population develops the disease due to a genetic mutation. Many people have the idea that much of the disease’s devastating effects are due to genetics. The majority of us don’t carry the mutation that causes the early-onset and very aggressive form of Alzheimer’s that often starts in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Today I’d like to not only discuss why that matters, but what can be done about it.

Yes, our DNA is involved, but our lifestyle can make a major impact upon whether we get Alzheimer’s or not. Neuroscientists agree that improving our lifestyle could prevent at least one-third of all Alzheimer’s cases. I’ve heard it said; that “genes load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.” It’s the same for many other health risks; think of cardiovascular disease; it has the same kind of scenario; some have genetic mutations, but the majority of disease is lifestyle-related. It matters because people have the power to reduce their chance of having to face this devastating disease by eating healthily, exercising and keeping mentally active. Like cardiovascular disease risk, we can do something to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease too. Most interestingly, what we should do overlaps between the two big ailments (Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular).

How to eat to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease: When it comes to fat, omega-3s found in fatty fish (salmon, anchovies, mackerel and sardines – flax and chia seeds) are the gold standard. Before I leave the issue of fat, I’ll mention that choosing extra-virgin olive oil helps to protect the brain from toxins and free radicals. A variety of fruits and vegetables supply the antioxidants and other nutrients to keep brain tissue healthy. So eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains and fish are foods that protect the brain.

If you read the previous paragraph and said: “That’s all?” I say, “Right.” It’s actually pretty easy. Oh by the way, you should also stay away from French fries; fish and chips; red meat; processed meats; high-fat dairy; processed foods (including white flour); refined sugar (that takes out cookies, cakes, bakery goods in general); and most snacks. OK, staying away from all the refined and fast food and snacks is the hard part. If you don’t like to take a walk or exercise most days, that may be hard too; but reducing risk of Alzheimer’s disease is essentially involves simple lifestyle changes.

It is worth the effort to eat healthily most of the time and move your body frequently. Ageing gracefully with our mental capacities intact is a worthwhile goal for many of us. So let’s keep the concept that our genes are not wholly responsible for our risk in our conscious thoughts and maybe that will motivate us toward keeping a healthy lifestyle; then we will have a better chance of avoiding the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease.