Old age is the biggest influence on whether or not you will get Alzheimer's disease and genetics plays an important part, too but those are not the only risk factors. Recent research shows simple things such as drinking a can of diet soda daily, or living in an area where you breathe polluted air or even going undergoing anesthesia could play a role in developing the deadly disease.
Here are some of the recent discoveries about risk factors for Alzheimer's that you can control, according to AARP magazine.
Cardiovascular conditions. Things that impede blood flow through the body such as a stroke or heart disease increase your risk of dementia. Your brain has a critical need for uninterrupted circulation, so it is important to keep vessels free and clear. Quit smoking and get your cardiovascular health on track, experts say.
Physical inactivity. James Hendrix, Ph.D., director of global science initiatives for the Alzheimer's Association explains your brain is not an isolated organ. "What is healthy for the rest of your body is healthy for your brain," he says. Physical activity not only improves your overall cardiovascular health but also might directly help your brain's ability to generate new nerve cells.
Sleep problems. If you suspect you suffer from sleep apnea because the quality of your sleep has degraded over the years, talk to your doctor, says Hendrix. "Studies have shown an association between apnea and disrupted sleep and a higher risk of Alzheimer's," he says. "And the risk seems to increase later in life."
Poor diet. Experts believe specific foods like fish oil can ward off dementia while certain indulgences like a daily can of diet soda can put you on track for the disease. Hendrix says your overall diet is more important than a specific food, however. He suggests following the Mediterranean diet which has been shown to reduce your risk of a number of serious health conditions, including dementia, most likely by improving vascular health but also by impacting the buildup of amyloid protein in the brain. Load up on leafy greens, fish, and foods high in unsaturated fats such as nuts and olive oil.
Social isolation. Losing a spouse can put you at risk for dementia as can a lack of friends or other social connections says Dr. Gary Small, a psychiatrist and director of UCLA's Longevity Center. Small, editor of Newsmax's Mind Health Report and Two Weeks to a Younger Brain. "Social stimulation is important for cognitive health," he says. Anything you can do to break free of social isolation will be beneficial to your brain as well as your emotional stability and life expectancy. Take a class, volunteer, join a club or exercise group, or even become a regular at a local café.
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