To help preserve mental function and protect against age-related cognitive decline including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, implement these healthy lifestyle, nutrition and supplement choices:
- Get 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Regular physical exercise, specifically aerobic exercise, can help slow memory loss and improve mental function.
- Develop healthy habits in all aspects of life. Not smoking, drinking only in moderation, staying socially involved, managing stress, getting adequate rest, and cultivating a positive attitude and outlook – have all been associated with a lowered risk of Alzheimer’s.
- Keep an active mind. “Use it or lose it” applies to mental as well as physical health. Do crossword puzzles, mind games, challenging reading, and take educational classes.
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. It helps prevent inappropriate inflammation and counters the oxidative stress which may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Focus on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, foods rich in vitamins C and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and the spices turmeric and ginger. Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid has more information and specific recommendations.
- Eat berries. Blueberries in particular may improve motor skills and reverse age-related short-term memory loss, and may also protect the brain from stroke damage.
- Use cooking methods that limit inflammation. Cook at lower temperatures to avoid the formation of AGEs (advanced glycation end products) which have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, and avoid cooking methods that require excessive fat, such as deep frying.
- Focus on fish. Wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring and black cod are excellent sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, yet are relatively low in potential environmental toxins. Diets rich in fish have been shown to alleviate depression and other mental-health issues.
- Daily multivitamin. A good multivitamin can provide optimal levels of folic acid and other B vitamins, compounds which help lower blood levels of homocysteine, a toxic amino acid linked to increased risks of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Ginkgo. Extracts of ginkgo tree leaves increase blood flow to the brain and have been shown to slow the progression of dementia in early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
- Phosphatidyl serine, or PS. This naturally occurring lipid is considered a brain cell nutrient and may have positive effects on memory and concentration. Research has suggested it can help slow age-related cognitive decline.
- A daily low-dose aspirin. Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by mediating inflammation. Because NSAIDs can cause stomach irritation, they should always be taken with food.
- Turmeric. This natural anti-inflammatory spice may have a specific protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease.
- DHA. This omega-3 fatty acid, which occurs naturally in cold water fish, is essential for normal brain development, has been linked to healthy cognitive function.
Acetyl L-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid. When combined, as in Weil Juvenon Healthy Aging Support, this energy booster and antioxidant are an evidence-based combination that appears to provide improved mental alertness as well as increased energy.