By Emsie Martin
To many people suddenly forgetting everyday things is the worst fate imaginable because you immediately think of dementia or Alzheimers. In 100 simple things you can do to prevent Alzheimer’s and age-related memory-loss deur Jean Carper, a health journalist who discovered that genetically she was at high risk of developing the disease, the hints to some extent help to allay this fear. However, there is no cure and no definite preventive measures.
A few hints for averting it as long as possible:
- Do something new. A new experience literally “makes your brain grow”. Learn a new word or even a whole new language, travel to new places, meet new people, do things differently.
- Have your thyroid tested. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Increase your level of education. Do a course for adults and grab every opportunity to learn more.
- Learn this word: homocysteine. It is an amino acid high levels of which are frequently found in people with heart diseases and has been associated with an increased risk of mental degeneration. Scientists think that homocysteine can promote the build-up of toxic deposits found in the brain cells of Alzheimer patients. Fortunately B vitamins combat homocysteine. Therefore, increase your intake of B12, B9 (folic acid) and B6, and think about taking a vitamin B complex supplement.
- Keep your balance. Poor balance is one of the first and strongest signs of incipient dementia. People between the ages of 30 and 70 years should be able to stand on one leg with their arms folded across their chest for 30 seconds; for 28 seconds if you are over 70 and for 21 seconds if you are over 80. You can improve your balance by practising standing on one leg and to do exercises such as yoga and tai chi.
- Drink apple juice. Apparently apple juice has the same effect as the Alzheimer drug Aricept (donepezil): it increases the brain’s production of acetyl choline, a neurotransmitter that is important for memory.
- Fight depression. Severe depression by itself is a destructive disease, but it can literally cause a form of brain damage that can make you more susceptible to Alzheimers. The good news is that depression can be successfully treated by means of medication, psychotherapy and regular exercise.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking almost doubles your chances of getting Alzheimers.
- Stay active. Exercise regularly. In inactive people blood circulation to the brain is lower and causes it to shrink faster as they grow older.
Watch what you eat
- Avocados ─ an excellent source of mono-unsaturated fats that contribute to healthy blood circulation, which is good for the brain and helps with diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons. A diet that contains saturated fat and trans fats is associated with an underperforming brain.
- Beetroot ─ contains lots of nitrates, natural chemical substances that help with blood circulation to the brain.
- Blueberries ─ contains a lot of antioxidants and flavonoids. Flavonoids can improve the memory, capacity for study, decision-making, understanding of words and numeracy and could retard the decline in brain power.
- Turmeric ─ contains curcumin. Use it in your food, it helps to protect the brain and can help to counteract memory decline.
- Broccoli ─ the vitamins in dark-green leafy vegetables help to convert tryptophan into serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps to regulate one’s moods.
- Eggs ─ high-quality protein that also contains vitamin D. The protein in eggs is an essential ingredient of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. Brain cells use them to communicate with each other. A deficiency of vitamin D is associated with depression and a less sharp brain.
- Rolled oats ─ low-GI cereal and a good source of fibre. It provides glucose, which gives the body go. Unlike sugar-rich food, the glucose is released gradually.
- Cocoa ─ contains magnesium. Magnesium helps the brain to handle stress and recover from trauma. Magnesium deficiency is associated with anxiety.
- Coffee ─ contains caffeine. Research has found that two cups of coffee improve memory skills, reaction time and nerve-cell signals in the brain.
- Nuts ─ contain vitamin E. Vitamin E helps with transmitter activities in the brain.
- Oily fish ─ contains essential omega 3 fatty acids, which are important for brain development. It can lower the risk of dementia and help with the treatment of depression and bipolar disorder.
- Olives ─ contain the antioxidant hydroxytyrosol. Antioxidants help to protect the body against molecules in the body that cause cell damage.
- Legumes ─ a good source of folate. Folate is essential for brain health because it reduces the harmful amino acids that handicap brain function.
- Tamatoes ─ contain the phytochemical substance anthocyanin. Anthocyanin helps to keep your memory sharp and enhances your focus.
- Oysters ─ contain vitamin B12, but are also zinc- and iron-rich, which are important brain foods.
- Wholegrain products ─ e.g. brown rice, rye and wheat are good sources of vitamin B6, selenium and soluble fibre.
- Bananas ─ are known as brain food because they contain high levels of vitamin B6, are a source of potash and provide energy to the brain in the form of glucose.
- Water ─ water is essential for the brain. Just as dehydration has a negative effect on bodily functions, a water shortage causes mental exhaustion.
Regardless of which foods you eat to provide your body and your brain with energy, a balanced diet with a variety of foods from the different groups of food is essential.
Huisgenoot Aftrede Oktober 2019
Carper, Jean. 2011. 100 simple things you can do to prevent Alzheimer’s and age-related memory loss. Vermilion, Ebury Publishing, Random House Group.