Can Alzheimer’s and Dementia be Prevented?

  • Regular Exercise
  • Social Engagement
  • Healthy Diet
  • Mental Stimulation
  • Quality Sleep
  • Stress Management
  • Vascular Health

The more you strengthen each of the seven pillars in your daily life, the longer—and stronger—your brain will stay working. This week read details and tips below on the first 3 pillars. (We will follow up with the remaining 4 pillars in next week’s newsletter)

  • Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. The ideal plan involves a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Good activities for beginners include walking and swimming. 
  • Build muscle to pump up your brain. Moderate levels of weight and resistance training not only increase muscle mass, and they also help you maintain brain health. For those over 65, adding 2-3 strength sessions to your weekly routine may cut your risk of Alzheimer’s in half. 
  • Include balance and coordination exercises. Head injuries from falls are an increasing risk as you age, which in turn increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. 
  • Protect your head when you exercise (wearing a sports helmet when cycling, for example), balance and coordination exercises can help you stay agile and avoid spills. 
  • Try yoga, Tai Chi, or exercises using balance balls.
  • Volunteer. 
  • Join a club or social group. 
  • Visit your local community center or senior center. 
  • Take group classes. 
  • Get to know your neighbors. 
  • Make a weekly date with friends. 
  • Get out (go to the park, museums, and other public places).
  • Manage your weight. Extra pounds are a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. A major study found that people who were overweight in midlife were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s down the line, and those who were obese had three times the risk. Losing weight can go a long way to protecting your brain.
  • Cut down on sugar. Sugary foods and refined carbs such as white flour, white rice, and pasta can lead to dramatic spikes in blood sugar which inflame your brain. Watch out for hidden sugar in all kinds of packaged foods from cereals and bread to pasta sauce and low or no-fat products.
  • Enjoy a Mediterranean diet. Several epidemiological studies show that eating a Mediterranean diet dramatically reduces the risk of decline from cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. That means plenty of vegetables, beans, whole grains, fish and olive oil—and limited processed food.
  • Get plenty of omega-3 fats. Evidence suggests that the DHA found in these healthy fats may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by reducing beta-amyloid plaques. Food sources include cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, seaweed, and sardines. You can also supplement it with fish oil.
  • Stock up on fruit and vegetables. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, the more the better. Eat up across the color spectrum to maximize protective antioxidants and vitamins, including green leafy vegetables, berries, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli.
  • Cook at home. By cooking at home, you can ensure that you’re eating fresh, wholesome meals that are high in brain-healthy nutrients and low in sugar, salt, unhealthy fat, and additives.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. While there appear to be brain benefits in consuming red wine in moderation, heavy alcohol consumption can dramatically raise the risk of Alzheimer’s and accelerate brain aging.
Preventing or Slowing Down Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia