Alzheimer’s disease and prevention: how to keep the brain young
Alzheimer’s is an increasingly common disease. However, even today there is no cure. Not only that, according to recent studies, cases of dementia will triple by 2050. What we can do is to try to keep the brain healthy and keep it from aging.
Aging is a physiological process and should never be regarded as a disease. However, we also know that non-pathological aging is associated with the risk of developing cognitive decline-for example, up to and including the presence of Alzheimer’s. Several scientific studies have shown how lifestyle is crucial in keeping the brain healthy as we age. The most relevant factors are diet, cognitive engagement and physical activity.
Alzheimer’s disease: what it is
Alzheimer’s disease represents the most common form of dementia, a neurodegenerative disease that progressively tends to kill nerve cells, especially those located in areas of the brain that regulate memory and learning processes. In fact, the main symptom of the disease is precisely that of short-term memory loss.
The progression of Alzheimer’s can take widely varying amounts of time, to the point where a person becomes increasingly unable to perform the simplest daily actions, to the point where he or she no longer recognizes family members.
Reading, studying and keeping the mind exercised
A mind that keeps itself in constant motion is a healthy mind. To keep the brain young, it is enough to do a crossword puzzle, study, read, play chess or visit an exhibition.
All of these actions promote the growth of cells and nerve connections.
Alzheimer’s and prevention: the importance of eating a healthy and balanced diet
An excellent ally of body and mind is the Mediterranean diet. Here are some tips:
- instead of salt, opt for garlic, onion, olive oil and spices;
- prefer whole-wheat flour when choosing grains, pasta and bread;
- consume plenty of fruits and vegetables;
- limit sausages, cold cuts, fats, red meat and sweets;
- make more room for antioxidants.
Taking care of your heart
When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain. That’s why diabetes, hypertension and obesity are risk factors for both organs. It is therefore important to keep blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and weight under control at all times.
Alzheimer’s and prevention: physical activity and cognitive engagement
In order to stimulate brain neuroplasticity and slow down the process of brain disuse related to aging, it is important to engage intensively in activities that are both cognitively and motor demanding. In this sense, the most suitable activities are definitely those that are most enjoyable and pleasurable. This is because the feeling of gratification and pleasure one gets when doing an activity one enjoys, in itself already promotes neuroplasticity.
In addition, it is also important that the activity we have chosen is within our reach, and therefore dangerous or too strenuous. Another factor to consider is that the activity we choose should be as multisensory as possible, that is, it should be able to involve as many senses and motor and brain functions as possible.
Let’s take an example.
Learning a new dance constitutes a multisensory activity because it involves the use of muscle activity, sight, hearing, touch, balance, coordination, memory, and attention. In addition, scientific studies have shown how music improves mood and also promotes socialization-another very important factor in promoting neuroplasticity.
Another useful activity is conventional gymnastics, although to have a greater effect in stimulating neuroplasticity, it is necessary to undertake a type of gymnastics that involves learning new motor patterns and movements.
For our minds, social relationships are a real boon. Having healthy social relationships allows us to be able to exchange ideas with others and feel better. Therefore, we try to form new relationships and keep in touch with friends and family members. A great idea would be to enroll in a class where you can share the same passions and make new social relationships.