In the previous article “Potential Steps to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 1” we examined ten different promising options for improving a person’s brain health and function. This article will continue to look at several additional options and then bring all this information together into a working plan of action.
For many, especially those of the Baby Boomer population, the loss of cognitive thinking is their number one health fear. Please understand that it is normal to experience a loss of memory with age. What is not normal is for this loss of memory to become so dysfunctional that it leads to Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. What scares most people is that there is no know cure for Alzheimer’s. Once you have Alzheimer’s disease you will experience a descent into a world of lost memories, names, and faces. This descent will continue until death ends the process. Not a pleasant thought. So the question remains:
I believe you can and there are a growing number of health professionals who also believe that you can prevent Alzheimer’s disease. According to Gary Null, Ph.D. in his ground breaking book Mind Power:
“Contrary to mainstream medical belief, there are safe, natural, and nontoxic treatments for the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Research has demonstrated how these remedies can aid in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s or alleviating symptoms that have developed. In the past, Alzheimer’s disease was considered an incontrollable force that caused elderly patients to wither away and die. Taking action now can prevent our elder years from being characterized by cognitive degeneration and a rapid decline in health and ability.” – Mind Power p. 164
With this in mind, let’s review several additional options for helping to improve brain health and function. I’ll then take all the information from Parts 1 and 2 and provide you with a 5 step plan of action. This plan of action will have the potential to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease as well as improve your overall health and slow the aging process!
Inositol is a naturally occurring nutrient found in wheat germ, brewers yeast, bananas, liver, brown rice, oat flakes, nuts, unrefined molasses, raisins, and vegetables. Inositol helps to maintain proper electrical energy and nutrient transfer across the cell membrane. This is critical in helping the specialized cells in the brain to function optimally especially in facilitating nerve impulses. Additionally, inositol acts as a lipotropic which converts fats into other useful products. This helps to keep the blood vessels from forming plaque deposits that can interfere with blood flow, oxygen and nutrient transfer, and the production of nitric oxide.
Alpha-lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant that is manufactured by your body. Good food sources of alpha-lipoic acid include spinach, broccoli, beef, yeast, and kidney. The body needs alpha-lipoic acid to produce energy. Since alpha-lipoic acid can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, it helps the brain to produce energy as well as protect it from the resulting free radical damage inherent to cellular respiration. In animal studies, those animals who received alpha-lipoic acid after a stroke had less brain damage and a four times greater survival rate than the animals who did not receive this nutrient.
Clinical research on humans is still in its early stages. There is one note of caution for diabetics. Alpha-lipoic acid has been associated with improved blood sugar control. If you decide to utilize this nutrient as a supplement you should work with your physician. The reason is that you may have to adjust your medication to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
There is a lot of discussion about both the benefits and dangers of coffee especially caffeinated coffee. The University of Innsbruck in Austria recently used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine how caffeine would affect the brain activity of people working on a memory task. All volunteers were tested twice; once without any caffeine and once after receiving the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee.
The results were that caffeine improved both the memory skills and reaction times of the volunteers. The functional magnetic resonance imaging showed that the caffeine increased brain activity in two locations. These two locations included both the memory-rich frontal lobe and the attention-controlling anterior cingulum.
Please note that unfiltered coffee, which is used to make espresso, cappuccino, and latte drinks, may raise cholesterol levels especially for those who already have high cholesterol. Plain brewed coffee or tea is a better choice. This will also help you save on unwanted extra calories. If you have a medical condition or are taking prescription medications, then check with your physician and pharmacist to make sure that caffeine will not be a problem. Always remember that moderation is best. Too much caffeine has its own set of health problems.
Stress can damage brain cells and reduce your ability to retain information over time. Meditation is more than just a stress reducer. According to a study at the University of Kentucky, subjects who meditated for 40 minutes had significantly better test scores than those who napped for the same period of time. Brain scans show that meditation produces a state similar to non-REM sleep. However, since consciousness is fully maintained in meditation, there is no grogginess like there is from sleep.
Gamma waves are brain patterns that are associated with attention, working memory, and learning. The highest ever reported level of gamma waves is from a 2004 study done at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This study examined the meditative practices of long-term Buddhist practitioners.
We exercise our bodies to maintain good health. The brain also needs to be exercised to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. According to Stuart Zola, PhD at Emory University, “Whenever you solve puzzles or do brainteasers, you’re making the connections between your neurons work more efficiently, which is like putting money in the bank.”
If you want to determine your “brain age”, then visit
Just remember the goal is to lower your brain age not increase it. Nintendo’s Brain Age is a fun computer game that uses reading and mathematical challenges to exercise your brain. Playing chess, computer and card games, doing crossword puzzles, and other brain challenging games like Sudoku are productive ways to keep your neurons in working condition.
A healthy cholesterol level is as important to brain health as it is for cardiovascular health. Just as plaque formations hinder blood flow to the heart these same plaque formations also hinder blood circulation in the brain. According to Aaron P. Nelson, PhD at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, “It doesn’t take much plaque to block the tiny blood vessels in the brain. In addition, several studies have shown that high cholesterol is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.”
Get your cholesterol checked on a regular basis. If it is high, then work with a qualified health professional to lower it. This also applies to your blood pressure and blood sugar levels if you want to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
It is important to note that as you age, the pharmaceuticals you take stay in your system for a longer period of time. This is because the liver’s ability to detoxify your system decreases with age. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety, antispasmodics, beta-blockers, chemotherapy, Parkinson’s medications, sleeping pills, ulcer medications, painkillers, antihistamines and some statins can have an affect on your memory.
Exercise is important but aerobic exercise is very important for both the heart and the brain. Researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana put two groups of older adults on two different types of exercise programs. Group One did one hour of aerobic training three times a week. Group Two did non-aerobic stretching and toning exercises. MRIs were taken 3 months later. The aerobic group showed an increase in brain volume and white matter in the frontal lobes where attention and memory are processed. According to Dr. Arthur Kramer, “The aerobic exercisers had the brain volumes of people 2 to 3 years younger.”
According to Philippe Marambaud, PhD, a senior researcher at New York’s Litwin-Zucker Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders, a compound in red wine called resveratrol may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. So far in lab experiments, resveratrol seems to hamper the formation of the beta-amyloid protein. This protein is a key ingredient in the plaque found in the brains of people who die with Alzheimer’s disease.
Five Step Plan of Action
Between these two articles I have listed 19 different options for improving brain health and function. I could list even more options but I think you can clearly see that there are multiple ways to improve your brain health and potentially prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It’s now time to take this information and put it into a simple, but powerful plan of action.
Step One to Prevent Alzheimer’s disease!
Green Vegetables - With the emphasis on climate change there has been a big push to “Go Green!” Well, the same applies to your brain. You need to
That means you need to eat your vegetables and lots of them. Every study that incorporates green vegetables into a person’s diet clearly shows an improvement in cognitive function. Green and darkly colored vegetables are a critical component to help you prevent Alzheimer’s disease and improve your overall health. Make it a minimal goal to eat one serving of green vegetable at least 4 times per week.
Now, if your lifestyle and hectic schedule prevent you from taking the time to eat your green vegetables. Or, if your budget doesn’t allow you the ability to consume fresh vegetables on a regular basis, then look into a good Green Fusion Product at your local health food store. My favorite Green Fusion Product is Core Greens from Synergy WorldWide. For less than $1.70 per day I get more than just a serving of green vegetables. I get a whole host of green plant foods that provide powerful antioxidants to protect my brain and body from free radical damage. I also get a product that helps to cleanse my body and restore the critical acid – alkaline balance that is so important for optimal health.
Step Two to Prevent Alzheimer’s disease!
Omega-3 Fatty Acids - This step is almost as important as eating green vegetables. The research clearly shows how important omega-3 fatty acids are for good brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in wild, fresh and canned salmon, herring, sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout, Pacific oysters, eggs fortified with omega-3, flaxseeds, walnuts, seaweed, canola oil, and soybeans. Additionally, there are several products from pasta to spreads that are now fortified with omega-3 fatty acids.
If you’re not into fish and you want to avoid the extra calories of those foods with omega-3 fatty acids, then use a supplement. Check with your local health food store to a good omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Make it a goal to take an omega-3 fatty acid product on a daily basis. It is another key component to help you prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Step Three to Prevent Alzheimer’s disease!
Mediterranean Diet - I’ve listed the Mediterranean diet because of all the general food consumption plans this one is the best in providing you with total wellness. If you follow a Mediterranean diet you will have no need for Steps 1 and 2 from above because they are already contained in this diet. Plus, the Mediterranean diet will also incorporate other options that we have examined in helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The clinical research has shown how important this type of diet is to heart health and it also seems to have the same positive effects for brain health. To give you a good overview, click on Mediterranean diet and this link will take you to the Mayo Clinic’s article on the benefits of this eating style.
Step Four to Prevent Alzheimer’s disease!
Get a Yearly Physical - Make sure you see your physician on a yearly basis. In the article “African Americans and Alzheimer’s Disease” I write about the importance of making sure your cardiovascular system is in good working condition. Just as the health of your cardiovascular system affects your heart it also affects your brain. Make sure you pay particular attention to your blood pressure, cholesterol level, blood sugar level, and iron level. Ask your doctor for a blood test that will check your ferritin level because this test will reveal even a moderate iron deficiency.
All of these factors are important to brain health and function. By making sure that all are in the normal range you will be taking positive steps to reduce your risk for dementia and help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Step Five to Prevent Alzheimer’s disease!
Exercise Your Brain - It doesn’t matter whether it is physical or mental exercise you need to exercise your brain. If you like physical exercise than make sure you have a good aerobic component to your exercise program. Your goal is to physically exercise at least 3 times per week. Your exercise program can be as simple as walking. As a standard note of precaution, you should always check with your physician before starting any type of exercise program.
If you don’t like or don’t have time for physical exercise, then make sure you do mental exercises to keep your brain sharp. There are so many different fun and challenging methods to help you in this area. Your goal is to mentally exercise your brain at least 5 times per week. Please note that TV is not a mental exercise! Trade 30 minutes of TV for reading or any other type of mental exercise and it will go a long way to helping you prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Over the course of these two articles on how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, I have given you a lot of information and options for improving brain health and function. All of these options have the potential to reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The longer you apply them the greater the benefit. Now it is up to you to make the difference in how you and your brain age.
Until next time, may we both age youthfully!
P.S. As a convenience, I’ve also included links to the following articles on Alzheimer’s disease:
The information contained in this website and posted articles are for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information contained in this website and posted articles has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.