Beyond the laboratory studies, lifestyle choices aimed at reducing inflammation – the same ones that are recommended for weight loss, reducing the risk for heart disease and diabetes – can absolutely help to keep your brain healthy and resistant to Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are my top five brain-preserving recommendations:
1. Reduce foods that raise blood sugar. Higher blood sugar increases inflammation. Avoid refined grains, and reduce grain consumption in general. Eat more vegetables than fruit, and favor vegetables that are grown “above ground.”
2. Eat more fat. While this may run counter to what you’ve been told, studies clearly show that higher levels of good fats like those found in virgin olive oil, avocado, raw nuts and seeds, wild fish, and even grass-fed beef, are brain protective. It’s the bad fats, meaning those fats that have been modified or hydrogenated, as well as trans fats, that are clearly bad for the brain.
3. Exercise. Research demonstrates a marked reduction in Alzheimer’s risk among those who regularly exercise aerobically. I recommend 20 minutes of aerobic exercise 6 or 7 days each week. In fact, new research actually shows increased growth of the brain’s “memory center” in people who exercise regularly.
4. Sleep at least 8 hours each night. Inadequate sleep is strongly associated with Alzheimer’s risk.
5. Take an omega-3 supplement containing DHA. According to the well-respected Framingham Study, individuals consuming the highest levels of DHA, a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, may have as much as a 40% risk reduction for Alzheimer’s disease.
Remember, despite what may have occurred in your family members, you absolutely have the power to change your health destiny.