Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a chronic, progressive degenerative brain disorder that breaks down and eventually destroys brain cells and the neurons that connect brain cells to one another.
The disease usually starts slowly and gets worse over time. It is a common form of dementia, leading to a decline in memory, behavior and mental capabilities. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease makes up 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.
Experts do not know the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease. However, three major risk factors are age, family history and genetics. Also, women may be more likely to have Alzheimer’s disease than men. In addition, people with mild cognitive impairment and past head trauma appear to have a greater risk of developing it.
Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are memory and recall difficulties. With time, people start having problems with comprehension, speaking, reading, writing and performing day-to-day activities.
People with AD may also experience depression, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, a change in sleeping habits, social withdrawal and distrust in others.
There is no cure for AD. However, if you are at risk of developing this disease, you can prevent or slow its progression with lifestyle changes, dietary changes and simple home remedies. These measures will work best when used early in the course of the disease.
Here are the top 10 ways to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil can help prevent AD and other brain problems. According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, coconut oil attenuates the effects of amyloid-β (Aβ) on cortical neurons in vitro.
Aβ peptide is one of the contributing components to this disease. In addition, the medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil help restore the lining of the nerves and improve cognitive performance.
For the overall health of your brain, use organic, cold-pressed, non-hydrogenated, virgin coconut oil only.
- Eat 1 to 2 teaspoons of organic, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil twice daily on a regular basis.
- Also, include coconut oil in your baked goods, salads and smoothies.
2. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 helps support neural functioning in the body and its deficiency can cause various signs and symptoms including memory loss. Taking vitamin B12 in the absence of its deficiency, however, may not enhance memory in Alzheimer’s patients.
Eat foods high in vitamin B12, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, dried beans, avocado, fortified cereals and soy milk.
You can also take a vitamin B12 supplement, after consulting a doctor.
Cinnamon is also effective in preventing or delaying the symptoms of AD. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that an aqueous extract of Ceylon cinnamon helped inhibit tau aggregation and filament formation, two hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cinnamon also facilitates better blood flow to the brain as well as improved memory and recognition. Additionally, it helps control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, one of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s.
- Put cinnamon in your tea, toast, cereal, oatmeal, baked goods, fruit salad and smoothies.
- You can also take cinnamon in supplement form. Always consult a doctor for the correct dosage.
Note: Do not take cinnamon in excess as it may be toxic to the liver.
Vitamin E can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and almonds are a good source of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E, the form of vitamin E that the body absorbs and uses best.
In addition, the omega-3 fatty acids in almonds boost memory. Almonds also support a properly functioning nervous system, which in turn controls cognitive functions.
- Eat 1 ounce or a small handful of dry roasted almonds daily to help prevent AD.
- Another option is to eat 8 to 10 soaked and peeled almonds on an empty stomach daily.
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that help destroy beta-amyloid plaques and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric can also improve blood flow to your brain, which is important for cognitive function.
- Drink a glass of turmeric milk, also known as golden milk, every day. To prepare this milk, simply boil ½ or 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in a cup of milk. Sweeten it with raw honey and then drink it.
- Also, add turmeric in your cooking to keep your brain sharp for years.
Note: Turmeric may not be suitable for people suffering from gallstones and biliary tract obstruction.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Taking omega-3 fatty acids can be a potential alternative treatment for AD. In a 2007 study, researchers at the University of California- Irvine found that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, may help prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease as it may slow the growth of two brain lesions that are hallmarks of this neurodegenerative disease.
- Get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet by eating fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, beans, olive oil and winter squash.
- Take omega-3 fatty acid supplements, containing at least 600 mg DHA, daily. For proper dosage and suitability, consult your doctor.
7. Indian Gooseberry
Indian gooseberry, also known as amla, can help prevent and delay the onset of AD. This fruit can tackle beta amyloid, the neural plaque associated with the progression of this disease.
In addition, being rich in vitamin C and other powerful antioxidants, it nourishes the brain and improves mental functioning. It is a good brain and nerve tonic and aids in improving the central nervous system.
- To boost brainpower, take 1 to 3 teaspoons of amla powder with or without water twice daily.
- You can also eat this fruit in raw or juice form.
Ashwagandha, also called Indian ginseng or Withania somnifera, is good for your brain. According to a 2014 study published in the journal Pharmacognosy Research, ashwagandha had a positive effect in tests of cognitive and psychomotor performance among healthy participants. The herb influences all aspects of cognitive functions like focus, thinking, concentration and memory.
Moreover, with the help of antioxidant and inflammation-modulating mechanisms, ashwagandha can act preventively, for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
To protect your brain from AD, start taking an ashwagandha supplement, but only after consulting your doctor.
Brahmi, also known as bacopa monnieri, works as a brain tonic and has antioxidant and neuroprotective effects. Studies suggest that it may help improve cognitive function in the elderly and in people with neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
- Consume 1 to 2 teaspoons of juice extracted from brahmi leaves twice daily.
- You can also take this herb in supplement form after consulting your doctor.
Regular physical exercise can help prevent cognitive decline and AD. According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, regular physical exercise exerts a positive neurophysiologic effect that helps maintain normal brain activity in the elderly.
When done on a regular basis from childhood, exercise reduces the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
- Enjoy brisk walking on grass for a minimum of 30 minutes, at least 5 times a week.
- Enjoy swimming, jogging, running, biking, trekking and similar activities, a few times a week.
- To reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, opt for a stimulating job and spend time in mentally challenging activities, such as reading, playing games or playing a musical instrument.
- A healthy social life can also help prevent the onset of this disease.
- Eat more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid high-fat diets and replace saturated fats in your diet with healthy fats.
- Avoid alcohol and cigarette smoking.
- Avoid processed foods and metal pollutants like aluminum and mercury.
- A few minutes of early morning sun exposure daily provides vitamin D that can also help improve brain function.
- Family members and friends should look for options for creating a better quality of life for people with AD.