Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Last week the world received the news that actor Peter Falk died at age 83.
Sounds like an average age to go, right? A ripe old age, full of family and after a career great acting career playing memorable roles. Falk after all is the actor who immortalized one of the worlds most beloved detectives, the smart, playful, and cunning Lieutenant Columbo. What I didn’t know until recently is that Peter Falk suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and Dimentia late in life. This caused me to do a little research on the topic, and find out more about the prevention of these conditions.
According to the National Institute of health, Dementia is a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. Alzheimer’s disease, is one form of dementia that gradually gets worse over time. It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Memory impairment, as well as problems with language, decision-making ability, judgment, and personality, are necessary features for the diagnosis.
In a 2008 Catherine Falk, the actor’s daughter, filed legal papers in L.A. County Superior Court claiming her father required full-time custodial care for his health and safety as a result of the onset of dementia. His doctor testified that “Peter Falk’s dementia means he no longer remembers Columbo.”
That sounds horrible.
Imagine the feeling of not remembering your loved ones or your life’s work. I have to think that most of us would do just about anything to not have to experience that.
Unfortunately, there is NO CURE for Alzheimer’s disease and the goals in treating it are simply to:
- Slow the progression of the disease (this is difficult to do)
- Manage behavior problems, including confusion, problems sleeping and agitation
- Make modifications to the living environment
- Support family members and loved ones
Again, that all sounds like a pretty tough circumstance.
The way to handle this and most health issues most effectively is to focus less on treatment of conditions, and start understanding the power of prevention. Though there is a genetic factor involved in the contraction of dementia and AD, lifestyle plays a major role in the equation as well. Luckily we have all the power there.
The key elements of a lifestyle aimed at minimizing the likelihood of contracting these conditions would include:
- Deliberate exercise
- Healthy diet
- Mental stimulation
- High quality rest
- Stress management
- An active social life
Your brain needs the proper nutrition to operate at its best. Focus on eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. Eating habits that reduce inflammation and provide a steady supply of fuel are best. These guidelines will help get you on track:
- Eating a diet rich in fish, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, and abundant fresh, local produce. Treat yourself to the occasional glass of red wine.
- Avoid trans fats and saturated fats. Reduce your consumption of these by avoiding full-fat dairy products, red meat, fast food, fried foods, and packaged foods.
- Get plenty of omega-3 fats. Evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Food sources include cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, and sardines. You can also supplement with fish oil. I like Carlson’s lemon flavored brand personally.
- Eat 4-6 small meals throughout the day, rather than 3 large meals. Eating at regular intervals helps to maintain consistent blood sugar levels. Also avoid refined carbohydrates high in sugar and white flour, which rapidly spike blood sugar levels and inflame your brain.
- Eat the color spectrum. Emphasize fruits and vegetables across the color wheel to maximize protective antioxidants and vitamins. Daily servings of berries and green leafy vegetables should be part of your regimen.
- Enjoy daily cups of green tea. Drinking 2-4 cups daily has proven benefits. Try brewing your own with a tea ball or french press.
Adopting these guidelines will help you make sure you’re doing the most to minimize the risk or Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In addition there are plenty of other benefits I’m sure you would notice as these habits cater to our body’s natural design.