25 Simple Steps to Prevent Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's strikes fear in all of us. The thought of losing your mind as
you grow older is terrifying and made worse by the fact that, before now,
there appeared to be little we could do to slow down or avoid Alzheimer's,
the most common form of dementia.

However research has found a lot of factors that raise or diminish the risk
of Alzheimer's disease. Following these tips, you could slash your chances
of developing the disease:

1. Check out your ankle

Low blood flow in your foot is a clue to trouble in your brain and a simple
test can reveal its cognitive state and your likelihood of stroke and
dementia. The theory is blood vessel health is similar throughout the body.
The degree of clogged arteries and blood flow in the feet can suggest
atherosclerosis in cerebral blood vessels. Ask your doctor for an
ankle-brachial index (ABI) test which involves an ultrasound device and a
blood pressure cuff that compares blood pressure in your ankle with that in
your arm. To remedy any impairment of blood flow your GP may advise
stepped-up exercise or a change in diet/medication.

2. Anti-oxidant-rich foods

Certain foods infuse your brain with anti-oxidants that can slow memory
decline and help prevent Alzheimer's. All fruit and vegetables are good but
top of the list are black raspberries, elderberries, raisins and

3. Beware of bad fats

The type of fat you eat changes your brain's functioning for better or
worse. Stay away from saturated fats which strangle brain cells causing them
to become inefficient. Buy low fat or fat-free dairy products including
milk, cheese and ice cream. Cut down on deep-fried foods.

4. Grow a bigger brain

Your brain starts to shrink when you reach 30 or 40 so it takes longer to
learn. However scientists now believe you can increase the size of your
brain through the act of learning. Try studying, learning new things or
broadening your circle of friends for stimulation.

 5. Chocolate Treat

Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, has sky-high concentrations of
antioxidants called flavanols, which possess strong heart and
brain-protecting properties. Drinking cocoa increases blood flow to the
brain. Cocoa powder has twice as many flavanols as dark chocolate which has twice a many as milk chocolate. White chocolate has zero.

6. The oestrogen evidence

Sixty-eight per cent of Alzheimer's patients are women, possibly as mid-way
through life they lose the protection of the hormone oestrogen which boosts
memory. Unless your GP says otherwise, start taking oestrogen immediately at the time of menopause  - starting any later risks dementia and strokes.

7. Raise good cholesterol

It's well-known that having high good-type HDL blood cholesterol protects
you from heart disease. But it can also save your brain. Researchers claim
it blocks sticky stuff that destroys brain cells and acts as an
anti-inflammatory to lessen brain damage. Ways to ramp up good cholesterol
include exercise, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol and losing weight.

8. Google something

Doing an internet search can stimulate ageing brains even more than reading
a book.

And MRI scans show that savvy surfers have twice as many sparks of brain
activity as novices. Go online to search for information, things to buy or
games to play. Although it's not known how much it will benefit your brain,
it's better than passive pursuits.

9. The ApoE4 gene

One in four of you reading this has a specific genetic time bomb that makes
you three to 10 times more susceptible to developing late onset Alzheimer's.
The gene is called apolipoprotein E4. If you inherit a single variant of
ApoE4 from one parent, your Alzheimer's risk triples. If you inherit a
double dose from both parents, your risk rises by 10 times. Ask your doctor
about a DNA test to reveal your ApoE4 genotype.

10. Say yes to coffee

Coffee is emerging as a tonic for the ageing brain. It is anti-inflammatory,
helps block the ill effects of cholesterol in the brain and cuts the risks
of stroke, depression and diabetes, all promoters of dementia. It is also
high in anti-oxidants and caffeine which stop neuronal death and lessen
diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes that bring on dementia. For most
people, a moderate daily intake of coffee, two to four cups, won't hurt and
may help.

11. Dangers of underweight

Unexplained weight loss after age 60 or so may be a sign of Alzheimer's. A
study showed that women with the disease started losing weight at least 10
years before dementia was diagnosed. Among women of equal weight, those who
went on to develop dementia slowly became thinner over three decades and,
when diagnosed, weighed an average 12lb less that women who were free of
Alzheimer's. Talk to your doctor about unexplained weight loss after 60.

12. Drink wine

A daily glass of wine may help delay dementia. Research says that alcohol is
an anti-inflammatory and raises good cholesterol which helps ward off
dementia. High anti-oxidants in red wine give it additional anti-dementia
clout. Such anti-oxidants act as artery relaxants, dilating blood vessels
and increasing blood flow which encourages cognitive functioning.

13. Know the early signs

Memory problems are not the first clue. You may notice a decline in depth
perception, for example you reach to pick up a glass of water and miss it.
Or you misjudge the distance in walking across a street.

Doing a jigsaw puzzle or reading a map may also be confusing. Losing your
sense of smell can also be an early clue, as well as asking the same
question repeatedly or misplacing belongings in odd places (like putting
keys in the fridge). Be aware of memory problems as the earlier the signs
are spotted, the more successful lifestyle changes and medications are
likely to be.

14. Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet, no matter where you live, can help save your brain
from memory deterioration and dementia. Studies consistently find that what
the Greeks and Italians eat is truly brain food. Following this diet  -
rich in green leafy vegetables, fish, fruits, nuts, legumes, olive oil and a
little vino  -  can cut your chances of Alzheimer's by nearly half. Rather
than depending on just one food or a few nutrients, it is a rich menu of
many complex brain benefactors, including an array of antioxidants, which
shield brain cells from oxidative damage.

15. Middle Age Obesity

Your brain cares if you are fat. A study showed obese people had 8% less
brain tissue and overweight people had 4% less brain tissue than normal
weight people, which according to one scientist hugely increases the risk of
Alzheimer's. Moreover, brain shrinkage occurred in areas of the brain
targeted by Alzheimer's, and which are critical for planning, long term
memory, attention and executive functions, and control of movement.

Tackle signs of rising weight early, when you are young or middle aged.
Oddly, being obese after the age of 70 does not raise the risk of
Alzheimer's but that doesn't mean you should neglect exercise as it is the
best way of stimulating cognitive functioning and may delay the onset of
Alzheimer's at any age.

16. Get a good night's sleep

A lack of sleep is toxic to brain cells. Sleep has surprising powers to
protect your brain against memory loss and Alzheimer's. It is a wonder drug
that helps manipulate levels of the dreaded brain toxin peptide
beta-amyloid, a prime instigator of Alzheimer's, which according to one
scientist puts you at accelerated risk. Research has also found that
sleeping an average of five hours or less a night is linked to large
increases in dangerous visceral abdominal fat, which can cause diabetes and
obesity that can lead to Alzheimer's. Take naps and seek treatment for sleep

17. Have a big social circle

Studying the brain of a highly sociable 90-year-old woman who died from
Alzheimer's, researchers in Chicago found that having a large social network
provided her with strong "cognitive reserve" that enabled her brain to not
realise she had Alzheimer's. Why this happens is a mystery but interacting
with friends and family seems to make the brain more efficient. It finds
alternative routes of communication to bypass broken connections left by
Alzheimer's. So see friends and family often and expand your social network.
The stronger the brain reserve you build through life, the more likely you
are to stave off Alzheimer's symptoms.

18. deal with stress

When you are under stress, your body pours out hormones called
corticosteroids, which can save you in a crisis. But persistent stress
reactions triggered by everyday events like work frustration, traffic and
financial worries can be dangerous. Over time, it can destroy brain cells
and suppress the growth of new ones, actually shrinking your brain. Sudden
traumatic events like the death of a loved one or a life-changing event like
retirement can leave a hangover of severe psychological stress that precedes
dementia. Be aware that chronic stress can increase older people's
vulnerability to memory decline and dementia. Seek professional advice.
Anti-depressants, counselling, relaxation techniques and other forms of
therapy may head off stress-related memory loss if treated early.

Bad gums may poison your brain. People with tooth and gum disease tend to
score lower in memory and cognition tests, according to US dental
researchers who found that infection responsible for gum disease gives off
inflammatory by products that travel to areas of the brain involved in memory

Consequently, brushing, flossing and preventing gum disease may help keep
your gums and teeth healthy but also your memory sharper. In another study,
older people with the most severe gingivitis   -  inflamed gums  -  were two
to three times more likely to show signs of impaired memory and cognition
than those with the least.

20. Get enough Vitamin B12

As you age, blood levels of vitamin B12 go down and the chance of
Alzheimer's goes up. Your ability to absorb it from foods diminishes in
middle age, setting the stage for brain degeneration years later.
Researchers at Oxford University found that a brain running low on B12
actually shrinks and a shortage can lead to brain atrophy by ripping away,
myelin, a fatty protective sheath around neurons. It can also trigger
inflammation, another destroyer of brain cells. Take 500 to 1000mcg of
vitamin B12 daily after the age of 40. If you or an older family member has
unexplained memory loss, fatigue or signs of dementia, be sure to get tested
for vitamin B12 deficiency by your GP.

21. Vinegar in everything

There is plenty of evidence that vinegar sinks risk factors that may lead to
memory decline, namely high blood sugar, insulin resistance, diabetes and
pre-diabetes and weight gain. Researchers in Phoenix, Arizona, have noted in
studies of humans and animals that the acidic stuff packs potent
glucose-lowering effects. Studies have also found it can curb appetite and
food intake, helping prevent weight gain and obesity, which are associated
with diabetes, accelerated dementia and memory loss. Pour on the vinegar  -
add it to salad dressings, eat it by the spoonful, even mix it into a glass
of drinking water. Any type of vinegar works.

22. Have your eyes checked

If you preserve good or excellent vision as you age, your chances of
developing dementia drop by an astonishing 63%. And if it's poor, just
visiting an optician for an eye test and possible treatment at least once in
later life cuts your dementia odds by about the same amount. Exactly how
vision problems promote dementia is not clear but impaired vision makes it
difficult to participate in mental and physical activities such as reading
and exercising, as well as social activities, all believed to delay
cognitive decline. Be aware that your eyes reflect and influence how your
brain is functioning, especially as you age. Don't tolerate poor vision as
often it can be corrected.

23. Eat curry

Curry powder contains the yellow-orange spice turmeric, packed with
curcumin, a component reported to stall memory decline. One study showed
elderly Indians who ate even modest amounts of curry did better in cognitive
tests. Curcumin works by blocking the build-up of Alzheimer-inducing amyloid
plaques (deposits found in the brains of sufferers) then nibbles away at
existing plaques to slow cognitive decline.

It is recommended to eat two or three curries a week, and make it a yellow
curry. Otherwise, sprinkle the spices on your food.

24. diabetes control

Having type 2 diabetes makes you more vulnerable to Alzheimer's. Studies
show it may double or triple your risk and the earlier diabetes takes hold,
the higher the odds of dementia. Some experts refer to Alzheimer's as
"diabetes of the brain". The two disorders have similar causes  -  obesity,
high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high fat and high sugar diets, low
physical activity as well as high blood sugar. In short, diabetes can
deliver a double whammy to the brain, destroying neurons and increasing
inflammation. Do everything possible to keep blood sugar levels low and
stick to a low-saturated fat diet and regular exercise.

25. Drink more tea

Evidence suggests that tea stalls the cognitive loss that precedes
Alzheimer's and that the more tea you drink, the sharper your ageing memory
is. Tea's secret is no mystery. The leaves are packed with compounds able to
penetrate the blood-brain barrier and block neuronal damage.

One particular green tea antioxidant can block the toxicity of beta-amyloid,
which kills brain cells. Make a point of drinking black and green tea. Don't
add milk, it can reduce tea's antioxidant activity by 25%.