Factors That May Increase Your Risk
There is no single lifestyle issue that has been proven to cause Alzheimer’s disease, but clinical research studies around the world have evaluated common characteristics between individuals who have been diagnosed with the disease. For Type I and Type II diabetics, poorly controlled glucose is known to damage cognitive abilities. There is some statistic evidence that demonstrates high blood sugar as a precursor to developing Alzheimer’s in both men and women.
Cigarette smoking is also statistically correlated as a possible factor in cognitive decline. The University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital conducted a study of 21,123 members within their healthcare system who were between the ages of fifty to sixty years. The mean age of the participants was 71.6 years and they were evaluated between the years 1978 to 1985 with follow up study in 2008. The study reported that for individuals who smoked on average about two packs of cigarettes per day, the following number developed cognitive decline:
- 25.4% of participants were diagnosed with dementia as little as 23 years after the initial study.
- Of the participants diagnosed with dementia, 1,136 had Alzheimer’s Disease
- Many participants had developed vascular dementia, where oxygen flow is constricted due to hardened or blocked arteries causing cognitive damage or stroke.
It is important to note that the study evaluated individuals who smoked two packs per day during their middle aged life (approximately thirties and forties). Individuals who quit smoking in the midlife years did not show the same prevalence of cognitive decline; quitting demonstrated a significant health benefit.
Other factors that can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia include:
- Sedentary lifestyle (low exercise).
- Inadequate natural nutrition (diet with minimal fruits and vegetables).
- High cholesterol.
Lowering Your Risk
If you think that your current lifestyle places you at risk for developing dementia or other cognitive impairments that will impact the quality of your senior life, there is no time like the present to begin to make healthy changes.
- Enjoy a robust social life and activity. Some studies have shown that close social interactions with peers and family members can help keep cognitive processes engaged.
- Monitor your key numbers (blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol) annually and discuss preventative measures with your physician.
- Engage in lifelong learning. Continuous learners were found to have lower rates of dementia and other types of cognitive decline.
- Eat your fruits and vegetables! Get fresh produce on your plate daily.
Your skin is your body’s largest and most visible organ, so keep it feeling, and looking, as fresh and young as possible. Healthy skin is a must if you want to avoid cosmetic cover-ups or costly surgery fixes for skin problems later in life. With a few simple changes to everyday behaviors, you can keep your skin healthy and youthful looking for years to come.
We may be able to reduce the signs of aging in our bodies through staying fit and taking care of our skin, but how can we prevent our brains from showing those signs? Research has shown that an age-related decrease in brain function is something that can be reduced. Your brain, like your heart, needs a certain mix of nutrients for optimal functioning, including proteins, sugars, and healthy fats. While regular social interaction and physical and mental activity are also very important for maintaining good brain function, we may be able to increase the chances of keeping our brains healthy and fit by adding some brain-boosting foods to our diet.
Antioxidants help your body fight off infection and may reduce the risk of strokes and heart disease. They also can reduce the damage that free radicals can cause to the sensitive tissues of the brain, and promote healthy blood flow to the brain. A recent study showed that seniors who ate more antioxidant-rich foods such as cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens retained a slightly younger mental age than others who did not eat many such vegetables.
The combination of cold temperature, dry indoor heat and hot showers dehydrates our skin. In the winter, humidity is lower and the cold, dry air takes moisture out of the skin. Indoor heating and overheated houses also take the moisture out. Even a hot shower takes moisturizing oils out of our skin, by evaporating. However, there are certain things we can do to put moisture back into our dry skin and keep it healthy.