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The harsh reality of Alzheimer’ Disease:
• Symptoms include memory loss and confusion.
• Half a million Americans in their 30s, 40s and 50s have Alzheimer’s or related dementia.
• It’s the seventh leading cause of death.
I don’t have to tell you how incredibly important it is to do everything within our power to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. And I don’t have to tell you how vital it is that we all give as much money, time, energy, prayers, and efforts to Alzheimer’s research as well as to families who have been affected.
One of the main missions of Out of Bounds is to arm as many people as possible with the knowledge they need in order to prevent dementia, memory loss, Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, and a host of other diseases that can be down right horrific.
USA Today (one of a few periodicals I read every day) recently ran a fascinating article about Alzheimer’s prevention. When I read the article, I couldn’t help getting excited – it’s always exciting to realize that so many people are throwing their money and brainpower behind the battle against Alzheimer’s.
Research has determined that three things (well within our control) can greatly lessen our chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease:
- Vitamin D.
“These are encouraging,” says William Thies, chief medical and scientific officer of the Alzheimer’s Association. “These types of studies make people think, ‘Well gosh, maybe I can do something about this disease.’ “
Exercise to Prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s
One of the studies is from the Framingham, Mass., cardiovascular risk study, in which researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, among others, tracked more than 1,200 elderly people over 20 years, 242 of whom developed dementia.
The researchers found that participants who had moderate to heavy levels of physical activity had about a 40% lower risk of developing any type of dementia. Those who reported the least amount of activity were 45% more likely to develop dementia compared with those who logged higher levels of activity. – USA Today
Getting more activity is completely within our control. It doesn’t matter how long your work days are, how many children you have, how old you are… Basically you just can’t come up with a good enough excuse NOT to get more activity.
If, however, due to health reasons, you can’t take prolonged walks, exercise on a treadmill, or workout in some other organized manner – you can STILL increase the amount of activity you get each day.
- If you watch a fair amount of television, use commercials as your cue to get up and move. Do the twist, walk around the house, do squats – just move that body and keep it moving for as long as the commercial break lasts. Do the same thing for each and every commercial break.
- When you go to the store, take one or two laps around the entire store before you even put the first thing into your basket.
- Even better than working out during commercials, work out during your favorite television show. March/run in place, do sit ups, lift weights, and so on. Grab an exercise book or log on to Prevention.com for exercise ideas.
- Put the laundry up one item at a time.
- Do all of your housework at once – a 30 minute to 60 minute session of housework can be quite a workout!
Needless to say, if at all possible, walk! Take a nice, relaxing, brain pumping walk every day — use a treadmill when the weather isn’t conducive to an outside walk.
Drink Tea To Prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Perhaps even more within our control than exercise, drinking tea has been found to help in Alzheimer’s prevention. Great, great news for me – I have a cup of tea nearby me at all times!
In a study of more than 4,800 men and women ages 65 and older, participants were followed for up to 14 years. Tea drinkers had less mental decline than non-tea drinkers. Those who drank tea one to four times a week had average annual rates of decline 37% lower than people who didn’t drink tea. (Source: USA Today)
Tea is full of antioxidants that your body loves – and now, apparently, we learn that our minds love tea as well. Cool. If you’re hooked on diet drinks or soft drinks, start asking yourself (before each sip), “What good is this doing my body or mind?” Then ask, “What benefits would drinking tea instead give my body and mind.” Then order tea! Remember, if you’re on a decaf diet, you can order decaf tea – it doesn’t appear to be the caffeine that our brains love so dearly.
Vitamin D for Alzheimer’s Prevention
Finally, we come to another Alzheimer’s and Dementia prevention tip that’s completely within our control: Getting enough Vitamin D.
British researchers looked at vitamin D’s effect on brain health. They examined data from 3,325 U.S. adults ages 65 and older from the NHANES III study. Vitamin D levels were measured by blood test, and cognitive tests were administered. Odds of cognitive impairment were about 42% higher in those deficient in vitamin D, and 394% higher in people severely deficient.
“Vitamin D is neuro-protective in a number of ways, including the protection of the brain’s blood supply and the clearance of toxins,” says author David Llewellyn of the University of Exeter Peninsula Medical School.
There is actually very little vitamin D found naturally in the foods we eat. The best food sources of vitamin D are coldwater fish. In many countries, vitamin D is added to milk and other foods like breakfast cereals and margarine, contributing to our daily intake.
The best way to get vitamin D is from the sun.
While researching vitamin D, I found this on Real Age.com and thought it was pretty fascinating:
As indicated by the study of submarine personnel noted above, by far the best source of vitamin D is sunlight. However, current recommendations which stress sun avoidance and the use of sunblock may have the unintended effect of increasing the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. Severe vitamin D deficiency was common in England in the 1800s due to coal smoke obscuring the sun. During that time, cod liver oil, which is high in vitamin D, became popular as a supplement for children to help prevent rickets. (Rickets is a disease caused by vitamin D deficiency in which developing bones soften and curve because they aren’t receiving enough calcium.)
Vitamin D deficiency is known to occur today in the elderly (who often receive less sun exposure) as well as in people who live in northern latitudes and don’t drink vitamin D-enriched milk. The consequences of this deficiency may be increased risk of hypertension, osteoporosis, and several forms of cancer. (Source: Real Age.com)
Use common sense when getting enough vitamin D. Aim for a little sunlight daily if at all possible. I’m not suggesting you burn or even simmer your skin – but I am suggesting that you seriously ask yourself if you’re getting enough sunlight and enough vitamin D.
While you’re thinking about it, take a walk around your yard – while, of course, sipping a tall glass of iced tea.
Your brain will love you for it!
Make each moment count double,