By 2030, more than 76 million people worldwide will struggle with Alzheimer's Disease, and many more will experience some type of brain health issues. National Alzheimer's Month 2021 is an opportunity to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and to start conversations with those you love about brain health.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s is a disease that harms nerve cells and tissue in the brain, affecting a person’s ability to remember, think, and plan. As of now, there is no cure.
The cause of Alzheimer's disease is thought to be an abnormal build-up of proteins called amyloid plaques in and around brain cells that makes it difficult for neurons to "talk" to one another. Another type of protein that leads to Alzheimer’s disease causes “tangles” in the brain cells.
Communication between neurons in the brain is important for almost every biological function our bodies need to carry out. This includes everything from talking to sleeping to remembering where we placed the remote, or what our address is.
When Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain, a person’s quality of life is directly impacted. They may start with mild memory loss. Over time, the plaques and tangles in the brain take over, making it difficult for the people we love to function as they were once able to.
What Can We Do to Minimize Alzheimer's Disease?
National Alzheimer's Month is a perfect time to learn more about what you can do to help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
While it’s true that Alzheimer’s primarily affects those over 60, there are lifestyle choices we can begin to make earlier in life to minimize the risk of developing it.
National Alzheimer's Month 2021: Prevention
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the following actions can help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. :
- Get regular exercise. Exercise helps to clear toxins from the brain and oxygenate it, keeping your neurons healthy. The Mayo Clinic advises that physically active people are less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Reduce stress. Stress causes hormonal and vascular changes in the brain that can harm it. Eliminating stress can help to protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease. Try a yoga class, meditation, deep breathing exercises, walking in a park, or talking with close friends to relieve stress.
- Eat healthy foods that reduce excessive inflammation. Excess inflammation harms the brain. Numerous studies have shown that Alzheimer’s is impacted by lifestyle choices that cause inflammation. Foods that reduce inflammation include the spice turmeric, leafy greens, nuts, healthy oils like olive oil, tomatoes, fruits like blueberries and goji berries, and Omega 3-rich fish like salmon.
- Get restful sleep. Sleep is essential for the brain to rid itself of toxins and to repair neurons. Talk to your doctor to find out how much sleep is ideal to allow your natural rest and repair process to happen.
- Keep your brain active. The old axiom, use it or lose it, stands true for the brain. Do crossword puzzles, listen to music, learn to play an instrument, play cards, or read a book to keep your brain active and engaged.
National Alzheimer's Month reminds us to focus on brain health and to put practices in place that can reduce our risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.