In part one of this article, we looked at the statistics surrounding Alzheimer’s disease, and went over a poignant example of when everyday memory glitches may be turning problematic.
Now it’s time to talk about things that we can all do to try to prevent Alzheimer’s disease from taking hold of our brains and memories. I’ve known too many people who have watched loved ones suffer and eventually die from this condition and although the severity of the symptoms and the stories about the disease varied from person to person, one observation remained consistent: when a person you love has Alzheimer’s, you feel like you have to watch them die twice—once when the person’s memory fades to the point where he or she is no longer the loved one you remember, and once when the person passes away.
According to the Alzheimer’s Prevention website, which is hosted by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, there are “4 Pillars” of Alzheimer’s prevention. Pillar one is diet and vitamins. Cutting back on trans-fat and saturated fat, especially fats from animal products like red meats, is a good place to start, as is increasing the amounts of antioxidant-rich foods that you eat. The idea behind these tips is that we want to cut down on as much free radical production as we can (which a high-fat diet can cause) while also upping our antioxidant levels, as they fight off the free radicals that are currently floating around in our bodies. Adding in the essential fatty acid called omega-3, found in many fish and flaxseed oil too, and trying out vegetable-based protein sources like soy are also things that may help.
Certain vitamins may also be useful, including coenzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid, ginkgo biloba (an herb that has been found to aid with memory issues), phosphatidylserine (a supplement that was actually approved by the Food and Drug Administration as being helpful with memory issues), omega-3, and acetyl-L-carnitine. Huperzine-A and vinpocetine may also be good for people who already have moderate to severe memory loss.
Pillar number two involves the ever-popular yet ever-elusive stress management.