Have you ever forgotten someone’s name or where you placed your car keys? Have you ever joked that you have a senior moment during those times? Well, the truth is that; it is common for everyone to experience mild memory loss. However, cognitive decline is not a laughing matter.
As a matter of fact, for many of us, experiencing a declining brain function is the most feared side effect of aging. Studies show that an estimated one out of three seniors die with dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases. However, this does not mean that it is an aging process factor.
Although aging is defiantly a risk factor, scientists believe that dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other memory-related diseases are caused by environmental factors, lifestyle choices, and genetics. With that in mind, it makes things easier to know the steps you need to take to reduce the risk factors and help maintain a healthy brain even as one ages.
Therefore, the million-dollar question is; what are the five things you can do right now to keep your mind shard and prevent cognitive decline?
Research shows that approximately 18% of people aged above 65 experience mild cognitive impairment. In some cases, mild cognitive impairment can develop into dementia, which we all know has a huge impact not only on the person affected but the family as well. Today, extensive research on dementia is still going on, and it mainly revolves around how inflammation plays a role in its development.
In fact, researchers believe that chronic inflammation is the root of many diseases that occur later in life. Some studies show that inflammation in midlife may contribute to dementia. CRP (C-reactive protein) is a substance that the liver produces as a response to inflammation. It is the primary inflammatory marker that researchers test to see a person’s body is inflamed.
Another major inflammatory marker is homocysteine, which is highly associated with heart disease, stroke, and dementia. Although the role homocysteine plays in the development of dementia is not clear, research shows that people with high levels of homocysteine are nearly double at risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease (which is the most common form of dementia).
The best news is that chronic inflammation can be reversed medically. For this reason, if the homocysteine or CRP levels are found to be high, there are ways one can do to bring the levels down, such as losing weight, managing stress, making diet changes, and reducing allergen and toxins exposure. It has been proven that chronic inflammation in midlife may contribute to the development of dementia.
Check Your Nutrient Intake Levels
It is common knowledge that, as humans, we need a nutritious diet to achieve good health. This fact is especially true when it comes to brain health. Remember, although you may be eating healthy, there may be some essential nutrients you are missing (especially as one ages). That is because as a person gets old, the body is less effective in making and absorbing some key nutrients.
For example, it has been proven that more than 40% of American adults experience Vitamin D deficiency, and the elderly are more at risk. This is a very important study that shows how older people do not get enough vitamin D, which makes then be at a higher risk of developing dementia.
For this reason, getting about 10 to 30 minutes of sunshine at least 2-days a week is very important. Also, eating vitamin D-rich foods like fortified dairy products, fish, and egg yolk is important. It is wise to check Vitamin B12 levels.
Remember, deficiency in these nutrients will surely contribute to high homocysteine levels. This is why increasing vitamin intake reduces the harmful type of inflammation.
Testing For Insulin Resistance
Diabetes is a problem in America. Today, almost ¾ of Americans are diabetic. We also know that diabetes is a serious condition that brings out many serious complications. In fact, more and more evidence shows that having type 2 diabetes can increase the risk of one developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Although research on this topic is still ongoing, it is believed the connection could be in the way type 2 diabetes affects the brain’s ability to use glucose or respond to insulin.
Checking for insulin resistance is one of the best ways to check if a person is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is a problem that is estimates to affect about 1/3 Americans, and it happens when the body becomes less effective at removing sugar from the blood.
According to American Diabetes Association, almost ½ of people with insulin resistance will develop type 2 diabetes if they fail to make lifestyle changes. However, just like it is with chronic inflammation, insulin resistance is reversible. This makes tracking insulin levels is one of the best ways to see if you have a problem that needs addressing.
If a person’s insulin levels are high, there are proactive ways one can take to bring them down. Few ways include exercising regularly, avoiding fructose, and eating a low-carb diet. A hemoglobin A1c test is another way to check if a person is at risk of getting diabetic conditions.
Avoid Exposure To Heavy Metals
Of course, few metals can be found in our bodies naturally, and they play an important role for both the brain and the whole body. First, they ensure correct body functions. Few examples of these metals include iron, copper, and zinc.
However, although these metals play an important role in the body, excessive levels can be life-threatening. In fact, some research suggests overexposure to copper (either through supplements, water, or food) may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s.
There are other metal types that we are exposed to every day, and they do not help the body in any way and may affect the brain. A good example is Mercury. This type of metal is poisonous and known to cause serious neurological problems. For this reason, if you consume a lot of fish or still practice the old dental work, it is wise to get mercury levels tested.
Lead is another metal you should avoid completely. Exposure to high levels of lead can cause serious health complications such as dementia.
Although environment and lifestyle are factors to consider, genetic makeup is also a factor. This is why it is important to check your genetic risk factors. For example, people with Apolipoprotein (Apo) E4 gene have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease after it often begins after the age of 65.
Genetic testing can help a person understand their overall risk. However, it is important to note that having the Apo E4 gene does not necessarily mean that you will inevitably develop dementia.
Some people believe that dementia is a condition that cannot only be prevented but also reversed, even for those with the Apo E4 gene, like Dr. Dale Bredesen.
In a nutshell, applying the above tips to your life increases your chances of avoiding dementia and reversing the symptoms of cognitive decline. Remember, it is never too late to start.