Thursday, March 29, 2012

How I am preventing Alzheimer's disease

This essay is not designed to be self-serving, egotistical, or self-absorbed, but if you read it that way, that’s okay.  More than anything, if you take away from this essay some things you can do to help ward off or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, then it has served its purpose.
Let me set the stage for what you’re about to read.  I am reading the book, 100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s: And Age-Related Memory Loss (Little, Brown, 2010).  In this excellent, well-researched book by medical journalist Jean Carper, she spends about one or two pages on each of the 100 items, so reading the book moves very fast.
The only reason I am making an essay out of this information is that I feel this is a must-read book for everyone — everyone!  Why?  Because it is precisely the material in this book that contributes to good health (vigor, strength, and wellness), a healthy lifestyle, and healthful living.
One other thing about making an essay out of this information.  Seldom do you find a book that reinforces most of the things you do or have chosen to do in your life.  For me, this one did.
I am simply going to go through her suggestions and mention only those that apply to me.  After all, it’s my essay — my choices!  For example, “Get smart about alcohol” is her first suggestion, and having just one beer a day for medicinal reasons satisfies that suggestion.  (I’ve never been drunk in my life!)
Eat antioxidant-rich foods.  The ones I enjoy are raisins, blueberries, artichokes, garlic, strawberries, dates, cherries, figs, apples with peel, pears with peel, sweet potatoes, broccoli florets, oranges, red grapes, and spinach.
Beware of bad fats by avoiding fatty meats, eating fat-free dairy products, cheese, and ice cream, trimming skin from poultry, and avoiding processed foods such as chips, doughnuts, cookies, crackers, stick margarine, solid baking fats, and salad oils.  Also, I avoid deep-fried foods.
Keep your balance.  I checked it this morning just to make sure I could follow Marilyn Moffat’s, (Ph.D. and a professor of physical therapy at New York University) directive: “stand on one foot, [arms across your chest] eyes open for at least 30 seconds.”  I had no trouble doing it using either foot for a full minute and could have easily continued much longer.
Carper says you can grow a bigger brain (to help you survive Alzheimer’s damage) by avoiding a lifestyle and activities “that shrink your brain — those that may lead to excessive alcohol, stress, overweight, nutritional deficiencies, and loss of sleep” (p. 48).
I keep my blood pressure down by cutting salt intake, following the DASH diet [grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, nuts, legumes and seeds], exercising, avoiding all sugary soft drinks, and taking appropriate blood-pressure-lowering drugs.
I am, indeed, a busy body.  I keep my foot jiggling and my fingers fidgeting.  I use the stairs whenever I can, and I move my muscles whenever and wherever.  When I’m sitting at the computer (or even on the toilet), I strengthen my upper-body muscles by moving one shoulder forward and then the other — over and over.
Carper writes, “If you feel comfortable with high doses of caffeine, you may want to consider getting 400 or 500 mg a day to help ward off memory loss and Alzheimer’s” (p. 57).  I have never suffered any caffeine drawbacks “such as anxiety, jitters, insomnia, headaches, and increased blood pressure” (p. 58).  I have said yes to a “moderate daily intake of coffee” (p. 75).
I treat myself to chocolate, control bad cholesterol (through appropriate cholesterol lowering drugs), and, by “being responsible, honest, and hardworking” (p. 81), I “buck up [my] resistance to Alzheimer’s” (p. 81), and demonstrate my conscientiousness.  “Being disciplined and responsible,” claims Carper, “lessens Alzheimer’s risk” (p. 80).
I control diabetes (I don’t have it!), but I keep my blood sugar levels low, and “Critically important are,” writes Carper, “a low-saturated fat, low-sugar diet, regular exercise, and keeping [my] weight normal” (p. 94).  In addition, I try to be easygoing and upbeat, avoid environmental toxins (to the extent that I can), enjoy exercise (“It’s like Miracle-Gro for aging brain cells,” writes Carper), socialize regularly (I am an extrovert!), have my eyes checked regularly, avoid all fast foods, eat fatty fish regularly, surf the Internet constantly, guard against head injuries, avoid inactivity, try to keep infections away, fight inflamation, and find good information (how I discovered this book!), have an interesting job (looked forward to writing all my life!), drink juice every day, and have never been lonely.
There are two suggestions that Carper makes where I absolutely excel.  The first is to “Learn to Love Language.”  She says, “Linguistic skills build bigger, smarter, stronger brains” (p. 168).  The second suggestion where I excel is “Build ‘Cognitive Reserve’” (p. 77).  Carper says that you should “Fill up your brain with lots of fascinating stuff” (p. 77).  If you “Keep your brain busy throughout your life,” Carper writes, “having greater cognitive reserve may enable you to cope with the damage [of Alzheimer’s pathology], postponing the real tragedy of Alzheimer’s . . .” (P. 79).
Other things I have done which conform to Carper’s suggestions include embracing marriage (“Staying coupled makes your brain happier,” she writes.), knowing the dangers of meat, following the Mediterranean diet [green leafy vegetables, fish, fruits, nuts, legumes, and a little vino — I drink no wine], keeping mentally active, taking multivitamins, building strong muscles, taking nature hikes, doing new things, getting enough niacin, taking one baby-aspirin a day, having nuts, avoiding obesity, using olive oil, having a purpose in life, getting a good night’s sleep, avoiding smoking, having a big social circle, loving spinach, using statins, dealing with stress, cutting down on sugar, taking care of my teeth, watching my weight, and walking whenever I can.
I know this is a lot, but you get an idea of 1) what this wonderful book is all about, 2) what you can do to help prevent Alzheimer’s, and 3) how simple, straightforward, and practical Carper’s book is.  What writing this essay did for me was underscore my lifestyle, reinforce my wellness, and fortify the choices I have made thus far.  Although I could still get Alzheimer’s, I think my chances are less just because of all of the above.
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At there is a thorough, practical, and informative essay, “Alzheimer’s Treatment and Prevention: How to Prevent or Slow Alzheimer’s Disease” (April, 2009), by Melissa Wayne MA, Jeanne Segal PhD, and Robert Segal MA.  The suggestions offered in this essay include exercise, good diet, build brain reserves, sufficient sleep, relaxation, management of stress, and protecting your brain.

4 Mind 4 Life: Good Health Tips, “30 Ways To Prevent Alzheimers Disease,” offers short, practical methods that echo most of those in Carper’s book.  The discussions are short, and the essay is easy-to-read and easy-to-digest.
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Copyright March, 2012, by And Then Some Publishing, L.L.C.


1 comment:

  1. Alzheimer's I have a family and I loved reading this information. thank you guys for the blog. I hope you continue writing many more relevant topics.

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