When pondering the health challenges of old age, Alzheimer’s is a particularly scary proposition. You may be able to help someone with Alzheimer’s or reduce your own risk of such a discouraging diagnosis by learning about the suspected causes and implementing natural remedies, diet and lifestyle habits that support healthy brain function.
Theories, studies, and speculations abound over the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Many variables likely come in to play with this disease, making it trickier to avoid and treat. However, common sense dictates that foods, supplements and activities that are supportive of brain function would be logical choices to reduce the risk or benefit those suffering with this health challenge.
What Causes Alzheimer’s?
The simple but not particularly helpful answer is that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by brain cell death and subsequently brain shrinkage. This appears to be caused by protein “plaques” and “tangles” in the brain.1
So the more accurate question may be, “What causes the plaques and tangles in an aging brain?”
Genetics are a likely factor Alzheimer’s. If Alzheimer’s or dementia run in your family, you will want to be aware of how to reduce your risk of memory related health problems.
Studies are making a stronger connection between cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. It does stand to reason that health issues that cause heart disease would also have a negative impact on the brain. If your heart is not working at its best, it will not be getting the necessary amount of blood and oxygen to your brain.2
One study suggests connections between a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and a Mediterranean diet, light to moderate alcohol consumption, and physical and cognitive exercise. Whereas risk factors would include smoking, diabetes, less social interaction, head injuries and some hormones used to treat menopause.3
Excessive use of television has long been suggested as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Certainly it would be rational to believe that hours upon hours of an activity that does not stimulate the brain during waking hours could have a negative effect on the brain. The viewing of certain television programs has caused children to have seizures in the past. Obviously television has power to harm the brain.4,5
But no good will come from worrying about your own Alzheimer’s risk. In fact, there is a possibility that stress contributes to Alzheimer’s disease!6
You can be proactive by taking positive steps to protect your health. Not only can it reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease but other chronic diseases as well.
Natural Remedies to Promote Brain Health
Your brain’s fat content is as much as 60%!7 Your brain needs quality fats to work well. Omega 3’s appear to be helpful in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.8
Diets that are very low in fat or made up largely of saturated fats are not providing the important essential fatty acids needed for proper brain function and maintenance.
Some good fats and good fat sources include:
- Coconut Oil
- Olive Oil
- Chia Seeds
Make a point of nourishing your body. Those nutrients are needed for all of you, even your brain. Eat a variety of whole foods from a variety of food groups. Eat less processed foods, white flour and sugar. These foods do not give much in the way of nutrition to your body.
Vitamin C is critical for countless processes in the body and also a neuroprotectant.9
It is difficult to get adequate vitamin C from food sources. Given the opportunity, the body will often utilize much larger amounts of vitamin C than the current RDA. When sick or stressed the body can go through very large amounts of vitamin C each day. Making vitamin C part of your routine will also support your immune health and joint function.
Cayenne pepper increases blood circulation, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to get to the brain and other areas of the body with nutrients and oxygen. Cayenne pepper helps to regulate blood glucose, which is not only good for diabetics, but may also be an important element in cognitive function.10
Niacin, B3, is a necessary water soluble vitamin that supports the health of the nervous system. B3 deficiency can cause pellagra. One of the symptoms of pellagra is dementia! Adequate niacin in the diet appears to be protective against Alzheimer’s disease.11
Some dietary sources of niacin include liver, chicken, turkey, tuna, cottage cheese, peanuts, almonds, lentils, and sunflower seeds.
Even light exercise has a positive effect on the brain in several ways. First of all, exercise is good for your mood and attitude. Secondly, it increases blood flow and blood oxygen levels to the entire body, including the brain. Healthy oxygen levels and circulation in the brain are beneficial to the brain. Studies even indicate that regular physical exercise can increase the size of the brain!12
Use it or Lose it
The more technology we have, the less we have to remember. But using the brain to remember things is a good thing. Make a point of memorizing things. Get a book of great quotes to memorize. Play memory game with children. Play thinking games with friends. Stimulate the part of your brain that remembers and thinks.
If you watch a lot of television, make a point of doing some sort of thinking puzzle during commercials.
Get Other Health Problems Under Control
Your body is many systems working together. If one part is not working well, others will suffer as well also. If you have known health problems, get them under control. While digestive problems are not necessarily a “cause” of Alzheimer’s disease, if you have trouble absorbing nutrients from your food, your body systems, including your brain will suffer. If you have lung problems, it will hinder your oxygen levels and ability to exercise, both of which could contribute to problems in your brain. Connections are being made between Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes and insulin resistance, another reason to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
Do you have a natural remedy for preventing or treating Alzheimer’s disease? Please send us some feedback!