Diabetes

Diabetes, referido a menudo por los médicos como la diabetes mellitus, describe un grupo de enfermedades metabólicas en las que la persona tiene altos niveles de glucemia (azúcar en sangre), ya sea porque la producción de insulina es insuficiente, o porque las células del cuerpo no responden adecuadamente a la insulina, o ambos. Los pacientes con niveles altos de azúcar en la sangre normalmente experimentarán poliuria (micción frecuente), se convertirán cada vez más sed (polidipsia) y hambre (polifagia).

1)     Tipo 1 Diabetes

El cuerpo no produce insulina. Algunas personas pueden referirse a este tipo como la diabetes dependiente de la insulina, la diabetes juvenil o diabetes de inicio temprano. Las personas generalmente se desarrollan diabetes tipo 1 antes de cumplir los 40 años, a menudo en la edad adulta temprana o la adolescencia.

La diabetes tipo 1 no es tan común como la diabetes tipo 2. Aproximadamente el 10% de todos los casos de diabetes son de tipo 1.

Los pacientes con diabetes tipo 1 necesitan inyectarse insulina por el resto de su vida. También deben garantizar niveles adecuados de glucosa en sangre mediante la realización de análisis de sangre regulares y seguir una dieta especial.

Entre 2001 y 2009, la prevalencia de diabetes tipo 1 entre los menores de 20 años en los EE.UU. aumentaron un 23 %, según BUSCAR para la diabetes en los datos de la Juventud emitidos por el CDC (Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades). (Enlace al Articulo)

 

2)     La diabetes tipo 2:

El cuerpo no produce suficiente insulina para su correcto funcionamiento, o las células del cuerpo no responden a la insulina (resistencia a la insulina).

Aproximadamente el 90 % de todos los casos de diabetes en el mundo son de este tipo.

Algunas personas pueden ser capaces de controlar sus síntomas de la diabetes tipo 2 por la pérdida de peso, seguir una dieta saludable, hacer mucho ejercicio, y el control de sus niveles de glucosa en sangre. Sin embargo, la diabetes tipo 2 es una enfermedad progresiva - que empeora gradualmente - y el paciente probablemente terminará por tener que tomar la insulina, por lo general en forma de tabletas.

Las personas con sobrepeso y obesos tienen un riesgo mucho mayor de desarrollar diabetes tipo 2 en comparación con los que tienen un peso corporal saludable tipo. Las personas con una gran cantidad de grasa visceral, también conocida como la obesidad central, la grasa del vientre, o la obesidad abdominal, están especialmente en riesgo. El sobrepeso / obesidad hace que el cuerpo libere sustancias químicas que pueden desestabilizar los sistemas cardiovasculares y metabólicas del cuerpo.

El sobrepeso, la inactividad física y comer los alimentos equivocados, todo ello contribuye a nuestro riesgo de desarrollar diabetes tipo 2. Beber una sola lata de (no dietética) soda por día puede aumentar nuestro riesgo de desarrollar diabetes tipo 2 en un 22 %, los investigadores del Imperial College de Londres, en la revista Diabetología. Los científicos creen que el impacto de los refrescos con azúcar en el riesgo de la diabetes puede ser una directa, en lugar de simplemente una influencia en el peso corporal.

El riesgo de desarrollar diabetes tipo 2 también es mayor a medida que envejecemos. Los expertos no están completamente seguros de por qué, pero dicen que a medida que envejecemos, tendemos a aumentar de peso y llegar a ser menos activos físicamente. Los que tienen un pariente cercano que había / tenía diabetes tipo 2, la gente de Oriente Medio, África, o surasiáticos también tienen un mayor riesgo de desarrollar la enfermedad.

Los hombres cuyos niveles de testosterona son bajos se han encontrado para tener un mayor riesgo de desarrollar diabetes tipo 2. Investigadores de la Universidad de Edimburgo, Escocia, afirman que los niveles bajos de testosterona están relacionados con la resistencia a la insulina.

 

3)      3) Diabetes Gestacional

Este tipo afecta a las mujeres durante el embarazo. Algunas mujeres tienen niveles muy altos de glucosa en la sangre, y sus cuerpos no pueden producir suficiente insulina para transportar la totalidad de la glucosa al interior de sus células, lo que resulta en aumento de forma progresiva los niveles de glucosa.

El diagnóstico de la diabetes gestacional se realiza durante el embarazo.

La mayoría de los pacientes con diabetes gestacional pueden controlar su diabetes con ejercicio y dieta. Entre el 10% y el 20% de ellos tendrá que tomar algún tipo de medicación en sangre-glucosa-control. Diabetes gestacional no diagnosticada o no controlados pueden aumentar el riesgo de complicaciones durante el parto. El bebé puede ser más grande de lo que él / ella debe ser.

Los científicos de los Institutos Nacionales de Salud y la Universidad de Harvard encontró que las mujeres cuyas dietas antes de quedar embarazadas fueron altas en grasa animal y colesterol tenían un mayor riesgo de diabetes gestacional, en comparación con sus contrapartes cuyas dietas eran bajas en colesterol y grasas de origen animal. (Enlace al Articulo)

Envejecimiento Saludable

Continúa la investigación que demuestra una relación entre la mente y el cuerpo. Tener una perspectiva negativa o sentirse mal consigo mismo puede conducir a problemas de salud mental. Lo ideal es tener un envejecimiento normal y para esto existen diez pasos que contribuyen a lograrlo:

1.      Mantenga un control médico regular.

2.      Realice actividad física.

3.      Duerma lo necesario.

4.      Ejercite su memoria.

5.      Cultive la vida social.

6.      Aliméntese en forma saludable.

7.      Cultive el buen humor y la creatividad.

8.      No fume.

9.      No se auto medique.

10.  Solicite atención médica ante cualquier sospecha.

(Enlace al Articulo)

Depresión

La depresión es algo más que “tristeza.” Todo el mundo experimenta de vez en cuando tristeza, pero la depresión dura más tiempo. Si usted siente que a perdido interes en las actividades de la vida cotidiana, como el trabajo, la concentración, la alimentacion o el sueño, considere los proximos sintomas y busque ayuda.

Síntomas:

- Estado depresivo la mayor parte del día

- Falta de interés y placer en las actividades diarias

- Pérdida o ganancia importante de peso

- Insomnio o hipersomnia

- Falta de energía o fatiga

- Agitación o enlentecimiento motor

- Dificultad de concentración o indecisión

- Sentimientos de inutilidad o culpa excesivos

 

Estos pueden ser síntomas de depresión o trastornos de ansiedad, que son enfermedades médicas tratables. Busque ayuda, hable acerca de sus sentimientos y preocupaciones. La depresión no es una parte normal de envejecimiento. Hable con su médico. (Enlace al artículo)

Depression and Anxiety

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Depression is a serious concern for older women. Some people have the idea that it is normal for an older person to feel sad. Older women with generalized anxiety disorder may worry most of the time. The nervousness and concern often worsen in stressful situations. The focus of concern among older women is usually the health, safety, or money.

 

 

Ask yourself if you feel:

  • Nervous or empty
  • Guilty or worthless
  • Fatigue
  • Lost of interest
  • Restless and irritable
  • Rejected

Or if you are:

  1. Sleeping more or less than usual
  2. Eating more or less than usual
  3. With persistent headaches, stomach aches, or chronic pain.

These may be symptoms of depression or anxiety disorders, which are treatable medical illnesses. Reach out for help, talk about your feelings and concerns. Depression is not a normal part of aging. Talk to your doctor.

Healthy Aging

Continue research demonstrating a relationship between mind and body. Having a negative outlook or feeling bad about yourself can lead to poor mental health.
Many older women lead fulfilling lives without suffering significant impairments in physical or mental health that often arrive later in life.

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They cope well with the physical changes that may make them less active and mental changes that can affect memory. For others, however, physical and mental difficulties rigged with aging can make older years a lonely, hopeless and difficult time.

What Is Diabetes? What Causes Diabetes?

Diabetes, often referred to by doctors as diabetes mellitus, describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both. Patients with high blood sugar will typically experience polyuria (frequent urination), they will become increasingly thirsty (polydipsia) and hungry (polyphagia).

There are three types of diabetes:

1) Type 1 Diabetes

The body does not produce insulin. Some people may refer to this type as insulin-dependent diabetes, juvenile diabetes, or early-onset diabetes. People usually develop type 1 diabetes before their 40th year, often in early adulthood or teenage years.

Type 1 diabetes is nowhere near as common as type 2 diabetes. Approximately 10% of all diabetes cases are type 1.

Patients with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin injections for the rest of their life. They must also ensure proper blood-glucose levels by carrying out regular blood tests and following a special diet.

Between 2001 and 2009, the prevalence of type 1 diabetes among the under 20s in the USA rose 23%, according to SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth data issued by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). (Link to article)

2) Type 2 Diabetes

The body does not produce enough insulin for proper function, or the cells in the body do not react to insulin (insulin resistance).

Approximately 90% of all cases of diabetes worldwide are of this type.

Some people may be able to control their type 2 diabetes symptoms by losing weight, following a healthy diet, doing plenty of exercise, and monitoring their blood glucose levels. However, type 2 diabetes is typically a progressive disease - it gradually gets worse - and the patient will probably end up have to take insulin, usually in tablet form.

Overweight and obese individuals have a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those with a healthy body weight. People with a lot of visceral fat, also known as central obesity, belly fat, or abdominal obesity, are especially at risk. Being overweight/obese causes the body to release chemicals that can destabilize the body's cardiovascular and metabolic systems.

Being overweight, physically inactive and eating the wrong foods all contribute to our risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Drinking just one can of (non-diet) soda per day can raise our risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 22%, researchers from Imperial College London reported in the journal Diabetologia. The scientists believe that the impact of sugary soft drinks on diabetes risk may be a direct one, rather than simply an influence on body weight.

The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is also greater as we get older. Experts are not completely sure why, but say that as we age we tend to put on weight and become less physically active. Those with a close relative who had/had type 2 diabetes, people of Middle Eastern, African, or South Asian descent also have a higher risk of developing the disease.

Men whose testosterone levels are low have been found to have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, say that low testosterone levels are linked to insulin resistance.

3) Gestational Diabetes

This type affects females during pregnancy. Some women have very high levels of glucose in their blood, and their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin to transport all of the glucose into their cells, resulting in progressively rising levels of glucose.

Diagnosis of gestational diabetes is made during pregnancy.

The majority of gestational diabetes patients can control their diabetes with exercise and diet. Between 10% to 20% of them will need to take some kind of blood-glucose-controlling medications. Undiagnosed or uncontrolled gestational diabetes can raise the risk of complications during childbirth. The baby may be bigger than he/she should be.

Scientists from the National Institutes of Health and Harvard University found that women whose diets before becoming pregnant were high in animal fat and cholesterol had a higher risk for gestational diabetes, compared to their counterparts whose diets were low in cholesterol and animal fats.  (Link to article)

What Is Prediabetes?

The vast majority of patients with type 2 diabetes initially had prediabetes. Their blood glucose levels where higher than normal, but not high enough to merit a diabetes diagnosis. The cells in the body are becoming resistant to insulin.

Studies have indicated that even at the prediabetes stage, some damage to the circulatory system and the heart may already have occurred.

Diabetes Is A Metabolism Disorder

Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is classed as a metabolism disorder. Metabolism refers to the way our bodies use digested food for energy and growth. Most of what we eat is broken down into glucose. Glucose is a form of sugar in the blood - it is the principal source of fuel for our bodies.

When our food is digested, the glucose makes its way into our bloodstream. Our cells use the glucose for energy and growth. However, glucose cannot enter our cells without insulin being present - insulin makes it possible for our cells to take in the glucose.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. After eating, the pancreas automatically releases an adequate quantity of insulin to move the glucose present in our blood into the cells, as soon as glucose enters the cells blood-glucose levels drop.

A person with diabetes has a condition in which the quantity of glucose in the blood is too elevated (hyperglycemia). This is because the body either does not produce enough insulin, produces no insulin, or has cells that do not respond properly to the insulin the pancreas produces. This results in too much glucose building up in the blood. This excess blood glucose eventually passes out of the body in urine. So, even though the blood has plenty of glucose, the cells are not getting it for their essential energy and growth requirements.

How To Determine Whether You Have Diabetes, Prediabetes or Neither

Doctors can determine whether a patient has a normal metabolism, prediabetes or diabetes in one of three different ways - there are three possible tests:

  • The A1C test
    - at least 6.5% means diabetes
    - between 5.7% and 5.99% means prediabetes
    - less than 5.7% means normal

  • The FPG (fasting plasma glucose) test
    - at least 126 mg/dl means diabetes
    - between 100 mg/dl and 125.99 mg/dl means prediabetes
    - less than 100 mg/dl means normal
    An abnormal reading following the FPG means the patient has impaired fasting glucose (IFG)

  • The OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test)
    - at least 200 mg/dl means diabetes
    - between 140 and 199.9 mg/dl means prediabetes
    - less than 140 mg/dl means normal
    An abnormal reading following the OGTT means the patient has impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)

Why Is It Called Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes comes from Greek, and it means a "siphon". Aretus the Cappadocian, a Greek physician during the second century A.D., named the condition diabainein. He described patients who were passing too much water (polyuria) - like a siphon. The word became "diabetes" from the English adoption of the Medieval Latin diabetes.

In 1675, Thomas Willis added mellitus to the term, although it is commonly referred to simply as diabetes. Mel in Latin means "honey"; the urine and blood of people with diabetes has excess glucose, and glucose is sweet like honey. Diabetes mellitus could literally mean "siphoning off sweet water".

In ancient China people observed that ants would be attracted to some people's urine, because it was sweet. The term "Sweet Urine Disease" was coined.

Controlling Diabetes - Treatment Is Effective And Important

All types of diabetes are treatable. Diabetes type 1 lasts a lifetime, there is no known cure. Type 2 usually lasts a lifetime, however, some people have managed, through a lot of exercise, diet and excellent body weight control to get rid of their symptoms without medication.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic Arizona in Scottsdale showed that gastric bypass surgery can reverse type 2 diabetes in a high proportion of patients. They added that within three to five years the disease recurs in approximately 21% of them. Yessica Ramos, MD., said "The recurrence rate was mainly influenced by a longstanding history of Type 2 diabetes before the surgery.  This suggests that early surgical intervention in the obese, diabetic population will improve the durability of remission of Type 2 diabetes." (Link to article)

Patients with type 1 are treated with regular insulin injections, as well as a special diet and exercise.

Patients with Type 2 diabetes are usually treated with tablets, exercise and a special diet, but sometimes insulin injections are also required.

If diabetes is not adequately controlled the patient has a significantly higher risk of developing complications.

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Complications linked to badly controlled diabetes:

  • Eye complications - glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and some others.
  • Foot complications - neuropathy, ulcers, and sometimes gangrene which may require that the foot be amputated
  • Skin complications - people with diabetes are more susceptible to skin infections and skin disorders
  • Heart problems - such as ischemic heart disease, when the blood supply to the heart muscle is diminished
  • Hypertension - common in people with diabetes, which can raise the risk of kidney disease, eye problems, heart attack and stroke
  • Mental health - uncontrolled diabetes raises the risk of suffering from depression, anxiety and some other mental disorders
  • Hearing loss - diabetes patients have a higher risk of developing hearing problems
  • Gum disease - there is a much higher prevalence of gum disease among diabetes patients
  • Gastroparesis - the muscles of the stomach stop working properly
  • Ketoacidosis - a combination of ketosis and acidosis; accumulation of ketone bodies and acidity in the blood.
  • Neuropathy - diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage which can lead to several different problems.
  • HHNS (Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome) - blood glucose levels shoot up too high, and there are no ketones present in the blood or urine. It is an emergency condition.
  • Nephropathy - uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to kidney disease
  • PAD (peripheral arterial disease) - symptoms may include pain in the leg, tingling and sometimes problems walking properly
  • Stroke - if blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels are not controlled, the risk of stroke increases significantly
  • Erectile dysfunction - male impotence.
  • Infections - people with badly controlled diabetes are much more susceptible to infections
  • Healing of wounds - cuts and lesions take much longer to heal

USA - 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet

How many Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes?

  • 8.5% of the US population have diabetes - 25.8 million children and adults.

    Researchers from the Jefferson School of Population Health (Philadelphia, PA) published a study which estimates that by 2025 there could be 53.1 million people with the disease. (Link to article)


  • 18.8 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes

  • About 7 million people with diabetes have not been diagnosed.

    Even though type 2 diabetes rates in the USA have risen sharply, Timothy Lyons, MD, who is presently Director of Research of the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center in Oklahoma City says that the disease is still not being detected promptly. He added that the lag in diagnosis involves both patients and doctors. (Link to article)


  • About 79 million people have pre-diabetes

  • 1.9 million people aged 20 years or more were newly diagnosed with diabetes in 2010

  • 215,000 (0.26%) people younger than 20 years have diabetes

  • Approximately 1 in every 400 kids and teenagers has diabetes

  • 11.3% of people aged 20+ years have diabetes; a total of 25.6 million individuals

  • 26.9% of people aged 65+ years have diabetes; a total of 10.9 million people

  • 11.8% of men have diabetes; a total of 13 million people

  • 10.8% of women have diabetes; a total of 12.6 million people

Diabetes In The United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom there are about 3.8 million people with diabetes, according to the National Health Service. Diabetes UK, a charity, believes this number will jump to 6.2 million by 2035, and the National Health Service will be spending as much as 17% of its health care budget on diabetes by then.

Diabetes Spreads In Southeast Asia

Diabetes is rapidly spreading in Southeast Asia as people embrace American fast foods, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries and pizza. More Chinese adults who live in Singapore are dying of heart disease and developing type 2 diabetes than ever before, researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and the National University of Singapore reported in the journal Circulation.

The authors found that Chinese adults in Singapore who eat American-style junk foods twice a week had a 56% greater risk of dying prematurely form heart disease, while their risk of developing type 2 diabetes rose 27%, compared to their counterparts who "never touched the stuff". There was a 80% higher likelihood of dying from coronary heart disease for those eating fast foods four times per week. (Link to article)

Some Facts And Myths Regarding Diabetes

Many presumed "facts" are thrown about in the paper press, magazines and on the internet regarding diabetes; some of them are, in fact, myths. It is important that people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, their loved ones, employers and schools have an accurate picture of the disease. Below are some diabetes myths:

  • People with diabetes should not exercise - NOT TRUE!! Exercise is important for people with diabetes, as it is for everybody else. Exercise helps manage body weight, improves cardiovascular health, improves mood, helps blood sugar control, and relieves stress. Patients should discuss exercise with their doctor first.

  • Fat people always develop type 2 diabetes eventually - this is not true. Being overweight or obese raises the risk of becoming diabetic, they are risk factors, but do not mean that an obese person will definitely become diabetic. Many people with type 2 diabetes were never overweight. The majority of overweight people do not develop type 2 diabetes.

  • Diabetes is a nuisance, but not serious - two thirds of diabetes patients die prematurely from stroke or heart disease. The life expectancy of a person with diabetes is from five to ten years shorter than other people's. Diabetes is a serious disease.

  • Children can outgrow diabetes - this is not true. Nearly all children with diabetes have type 1; insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas have been destroyed. These never come back. Children with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin for the rest of their lives, unless a cure is found one day.

  • Don't eat too much sugar, you will become diabetic - this is not true. A person with diabetes type 1 developed the disease because their immune system destroyed the insulin-producing beta cells. A diet high in calories, which can make people overweight/obese, raises the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially if there is a history of this disease in the family.

  • I know when my blood sugar levels are high or low - very high or low blood sugar levels may cause some symptoms, such as weakness, fatigue and extreme thirst. However, levels need to be fluctuating a lot for symptoms to be felt. The only way to be sure about your blood sugar levels is to test them regularly. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark showed that even very slight rises in blood-glucose levels significantly raise the risk of ischemic heart disease. (Link to article)

  • Diabetes diets are different from other people's - the diet doctors and specialized nutritionists recommend for diabetes patients are healthy ones; healthy for everybody, including people without the disease. Meals should contain plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and they should be low in salt and sugar, and saturated or trans fat. Experts say that there is no need to buy special diabetic foods because they offer no special benefit, compared to the healthy things we can buy in most shops.

  • High blood sugar levels are fine for some, while for others they are a sign of diabetes - high blood-sugar levels are never normal for anybody. Some illnesses, mental stress and steroids can cause temporary hikes in blood sugar levels in people without diabetes. Anybody with higher-than-normal blood sugar levels or sugar in their urine should be checked for diabetes by a health care professional.
  • Diabetics cannot eat bread, potatoes or pasta - people with diabetes can eat starchy foods. However, they must keep an eye on the size of the portions. Whole grain starchy foods are better, as is the case for people without diabetes.

  • One person can transmit diabetes to another person - NOT TRUE. Just like a broken leg is not infectious or contagious. A parent may pass on, through their genes to their offspring, a higher susceptibility to developing the disease.

  • Only older people develop type 2 diabetes - things are changing. A growing number of children and teenagers are developing type 2 diabetes. Experts say that this is linked to the explosion in childhood obesity rates, poor diet, and physical inactivity.

  • I have to go on insulin, this must mean my diabetes is severe - people take insulin when diet alone or diet with oral or non-insulin injectable diabetes drugs do not provide good-enough diabetes control, that's all. Insulin helps diabetes control. It does not usually have anything to do with the severity of the disease.

  • If you have diabetes you cannot eat chocolates or sweets - people with diabetes can eat chocolates and sweets if they combine them with exercise or eat them as part of a healthy meal.

  • Diabetes patients are more susceptible to colds and illnesses in general - a person with diabetes with good diabetes control is no more likely to become ill with a cold or something else than other people. However, when a diabetic catches a cold, their diabetes becomes harder to control, so they have a higher risk of complications.

 

Alzheimer’s & Dementia Prevention

For many years, we've been told that there's little we can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, but hope for the best and wait for a pharmaceutical cure. But the truth is you can reduce your risk by eating right, exercising, staying mentally and socially active, and keeping stress under control. By leading a brain-healthy lifestyle, you may be able to prevent Alzheimer’s symptoms and slow down, or even reverse, the process of deterioration.                                

In This Article:

Lifestyle choices can protect your brain

Researchers across the world are racing towards a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But as prevalence rates climb, their focus has broadened from treatment to prevention strategies. What they’ve discovered is that it may be possible to prevent or delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias through a combination of healthful habits. While Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 50 percent of dementia cases, vascular dementia accounts for up to 40 percent in older adults, and there is much you can do to prevent this type of dementia.

It’s never too early to start boosting your brain reserves, but whatever your age, there are steps you can take to keep your brain healthy.

The 6 pillars of a brain-healthy lifestyle

The health of your brain, like the health of your body, depends on many factors.

While some factors, such as your genes, are out of your control, many powerful lifestyle factors are within your sphere of influence.

The six pillars of a brain-healthy lifestyle are:

  1. Regular exercise
  2. Healthy diet
  3. Mental stimulation
  4. Quality sleep
  5. Stress management
  6. An active social life

The more you strengthen each of the six pillars in your daily life, the healthier and hardier your brain will be. When you lead a brain-healthy lifestyle, your brain will stay working stronger…longer.

Alzheimer’s & dementia prevention pillar #1: Regular exercise

The benefits of exercise

In addition to protecting against Alzheimer’s and dementia, regular exercise:

  • Reduces stress
  • Boosts mood
  • Improves memory
  • Increases energy

According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation,  physical exercise reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 50  percent.

Regular exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have  already started to develop cognitive problems.

If you’ve been inactive for a while, starting an exercise program can  be intimidating. But you don’t have to take up jogging or sign up for a gym  membership. Look for small ways to add more movement into your day. Park at  the far end of the parking lot, take the stairs, carry your own groceries, or  walk around the block or pace while talking on your cell phone.

Tips for getting started and sticking with your exercise plan:

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five times per week. Try walking, swimming, or any other activity that gets your heart rate up. Even routine activities such as gardening, cleaning, or doing laundry count as exercise.
  • Build muscle to pump up your brain. Moderate levels of weight and resistance training not only increase muscle mass, they help you maintain brain health. Combining aerobics and strength training is better than either activity alone. 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 grow older, which in turn increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Balance and coordination exercises can help you stay agile and avoid spills. Try yoga, Tai Chi, or exercises using balance discs or balance balls.
  • Stick with it for a month. It takes approximately 28 days for a new routine to become habit. Once you’re over this hump, keeping up your exercise routine will feel natural. In the meantime, write realistic goals on a workout calendar and post it on the fridge. Build in frequent rewards, and within no time, the feel-good endorphins from regular exercise will help you forget the remote…and head out the door.
  • Protect your head. Studies suggest that head trauma at any point           in life significantly increases your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This includes           repeated hits in sports activities such as football, soccer, and boxing, or one-time           injuries from a bicycle, skating, or motorcycle accident. Protect your brain by wearing           properly fitting sports helmets, buckling your seatbelt, and trip-proofing your environment.           Avoid activities that compete for your attention—like talking on your cell           while driving. A moment’s distraction can           lead to a brain-injuring thud!

Alzheimer’s & dementia prevention pillar #2: Healthy diet

Eat to protect glial cells.

Researchers believe that glial cells may help remove debris and toxins from the brain that can contribute         to Alzheimer’s disease. Consuming foods such as ginger, green tea, fatty fish, soy products, blueberries,         and other dark berries may protect these important cells from damage.

Just like the rest of your body, your brain needs a nutritious diet to operate at its best. Focus on eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.

Eating habits that reduce inflammation and provide a steady supply of fuel are best. These food tips will keep you protected:

  • Follow a Mediterranean diet.Eating a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet rich in fish, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, and abundant fresh produce. Treat yourself to the occasional glass of red wine and square of dark chocolate.
  • Avoid trans fats and saturated fats. Reduce your consumption by avoiding full-fat dairy products, red meat, fast food, fried foods, and packaged and processed foods.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. What’s good for the heart is also good for the brain, so by reducing your risk of heart disease, you also lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Get plenty of omega-3 fats. Evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Food sources include cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, and sardines. You can also supplement with fish oil.
  • Eat 4-6 small meals throughout the day, rather than 3 large meals. Eating at regular intervals helps to maintain consistent blood sugar levels. Also avoid refined carbohydrates high in sugar and white flour, which rapidly spike glucose levels and inflame your brain.
  • Eat across the rainbow.Emphasize fruits and vegetables across the color spectrum to maximize protective antioxidants and vitamins. Daily servings of berries and green leafy vegetables should be part of your brain-protective regimen.
  • Enjoy daily cups of tea.Regular consumption of green tea may enhance memory and mental alertness and slow brain aging. White and oolong teas are also particularly brain healthy. Drinking 2-4 cups daily has proven benefits. Although not as powerful as tea, coffee also confers brain benefits.

Give up smoking and drink in moderation

Smoking and heavy drinking are two of the most preventable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Not only does smoking increase the odds for those over 65 by nearly 79 percent, researchers at Miami’s Mt. Sinai Medical Center warn that a combination of these two behaviors reduces the age of Alzheimer’s onset by six to seven years.

When you stop smoking, the brain benefits from improved circulation almost immediately, no matter your age. However, brain changes from alcohol abuse can only be reversed in their early stages.

What about supplements?

Folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin D, magnesium, and fish oil are believed to preserve and improve brain health. Studies of vitamin E, ginkgo biloba, coenzyme Q10, and turmeric have yielded less conclusive results, but may also be beneficial in the prevention or delay of Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms.

Talk to your doctor about medication interactions, and review current literature to make a personal decision about the costs and benefits of dietary supplements.

Alzheimer’s & dementia prevention pillar #3: Mental stimulation

Those who continue learning new things throughout life and challenging their brains are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, so make it a point to stay mentally active. In essence, you need to “use it or lose it.”

Activities involving multiple tasks or requiring communication, interaction, and organization offer the greatest protection. Set aside time each day to stimulate your brain. Cross-training with these brain-boosting activities will help keep you mentally sharp:

  • Learn something new. Study a foreign language, learn sign language, practice a musical instrument, read the newspaper or a good book, or take up a new hobby. The greater the novelty and challenge, the larger the deposit in your brain reserves.
  • Practice memorization. Start with something short, progressing to something a little more involved, such as the 50 U.S. state capitals. Create rhymes and patterns to strengthen your memory connections.
  • Enjoy strategy games, puzzles, and riddles. Brain teasers and strategy games provide a great mental workout and build your capacity to form and retain cognitive associations. Do a crossword puzzle, play board games or cards, or work word and number games, such as Scrabble or Sudoku.
  • Practice the 5 W’s.Observe and report like a crime detective. Keep a “Who, What, Where, When, and Why” list of your daily experiences. Capturing visual details keeps your neurons firing.
  • Follow the road less traveled. Take a new route, eat with your non-dominant hand, rearrange your computer file system. Vary your habits regularly to create new brain pathways.

Alzheimer’s & dementia prevention pillar #4: Quality sleep

Your brain needs regular, restful sleep in order to function at optimum capacity. Sleep deprivation not only leaves you cranky and tired, but impairs your ability to think, problem-solve, and process, store, and recall information. Deep, dreamy sleep is critical for memory formation and retention. If nightly sleep deprivation is slowing your thinking and affecting your mood, you may be at greater risk of developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The vast majority of adults need at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Any less, and productivity and creativity suffers.

Tips to help you combat insomnia and catch up on your Z’s

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and getting up at the same time reinforces your natural circadian rhythms. Your brain’s clock responds to regularity.
  • Be smart about napping. While taking a nap can be a great way to recharge, especially for older adults, it can make insomnia worse. If insomnia is a problem for you, consider eliminating napping. If you must nap, do it in the early afternoon, and limit it to thirty minutes.
  • Set the mood.Reserve your bed for sleep and sex, and ban television and computers from the bedroom (both are stimulating and may lead to difficulties falling asleep).
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual. Take a hot bath, do some light stretches, write in your journal, or dim the lights. As it becomes habit, your nightly ritual will send a powerful signal to your brain that it’s time for deep restorative sleep.
  • Quiet your inner chatter.When stress, anxiety, or negative internal dialogues keep you awake, get out of bed. Try reading or relaxing in another room for twenty minutes then hop back in.

Alzheimer’s & dementia prevention #5: Stress management

Stress that is chronic or severe takes a heavy toll on the brain, leading to shrinkage in a key memory area of the brain known as the hippocampus, hampering nerve cell growth, and increasing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Yet simple daily tools can minimize its harmful effects.

Get your stress levels in check with these proven techniques

  • Breathe!Stress alters your breathing rate and impacts oxygen levels in the brain. Quiet your stress response with deep, abdominal breathing. Restorative breathing is powerful, simple, and free!
  • Schedule daily relaxation activities.Keeping stress under control requires regular effort. Make relaxation a priority, whether it’s a walk in the park, playtime with your dog, yoga, or a soothing bath.
  • Nourish inner peace. Most scientists acknowledge a strong mind-body connection, and various studies associate spirituality with better brain health. Regular meditation, prayer, reflection, and religious practice may immunize you against the damaging effects of stress.

Alzheimer’s & dementia prevention #6: An active social life

Human beings are highly social creatures. We don’t thrive in isolation, and neither do our brains. Studies show that the more connected we are, the better we fare on tests of memory and cognition. Staying socially active may even protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, so make your social life a priority.

Oftentimes, we become more isolated as we get older, but there are many ways to keep your support system strong and develop new relationships:

  • Volunteer
  • Join a club or social group
  • Visit your local community center or senior center
  • Take group classes (such as at the gym or a community college)
  • Reach out over the phone or email
  • Connect to others via social networks such as Facebook
  • Get to know your neighbors
  • Make a weekly date with friends
  • Get out (go to the movies, the park, museums, and other public places)

Simple ways to connect with your partner, family member, or friend

  • Commit to spending quality time together on a regular basis. Even during very busy and stressful times, a few minutes of really sharing and connecting can help keep bonds strong.
  • Find something that you enjoy doing together, whether it is a shared hobby, dance class, daily walk, or sitting over a cup of coffee in the morning.
  • Try something new together. Doing new things together can be a fun way to connect and keep things interesting. It can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or going on a day trip to a place you’ve never been before.