I can remember when 2012 seemed to be so far in the distant future, and here it is already. Time has certainly passed quickly. My children are not only grown up, but have children and grandchildren of their own. Is it possible that I am really that old?
Taking care of my 95-year-old friend who has Alzheimers has really made me conscious of how we need to take care of our minds as well as our bodies as we age. Although there is no real known cause for Alzheimers, there are things you can do to help prevent it happening to you.
This information comes from the Alzheimers Association...listen up, it could make a difference for you and your loved ones.
The risk of developing Alzheimer's or vascular dementia appears to increase as a result of many conditions that damage the heart or blood vessels. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol. Some autopsy studies show that as many as 80 percent of individuals with Alzheimer's disease also have cardiovascular disease.
A longstanding question is why some people develop hallmark Alzheimer's plaques and tangles but do not develop the symptoms of Alzheimer's. Vascular disease may help researchers eventually find an answer. Autopsy studies suggest that plaques and tangles may be present in the brain without causing symptoms of cognitive decline unless the brain also shows evidence of vascular disease. Many experts believe that controlling cardiovascular risk factors may be the most cost-effective and helpful approach to protecting brain health.
Some of the strongest current evidence links brain health to heart health. Your brain is nourished by one of your body's richest networks of blood vessels. Every heartbeat pumps about 20 to 25 percent of your blood to your head, where brain cells use at least 20 percent of the food and oxygen your blood carries.
Regular physical exercise may be a beneficial strategy to lower the risk of Alzheimer's and vascular dementia. Some evidence suggests exercise may directly benefit brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow. Even stronger evidence suggests exercise may protect brain health through its proven benefits to the cardiovascular system. Because of the known cardiovascular benefits, a medically approved exercise program is a valuable part of any overall wellness plan.
Like exercise, diet may have its greatest impact on brain health through its effect on heart health. The best current evidence suggests that heart-healthy eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, also may help protect the brain. A Mediterranean diet includes relatively little red meat and emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and nuts, olive oil and other healthy fats.
A number of studies indicate that maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active as we age might lower the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's. Experts are not certain about the reason for this association. It may be due to direct mechanisms through which social and mental stimulation protect the brain. Alternatively, people who eventually develop Alzheimer's may feel less inclined to engage in socially and intellectually stimulating activities years before current diagnostic methods can detect symptoms.
There appears to be a strong link between future risk of Alzheimer's and serious head trauma, especially when injury involves loss of consciousness. You can help reduce your risk of Alzheimer's by protecting your head.
- Wear a seat belt
- Use a helmet when participating in sports
- "Fall-proof" your home
What you can do now
While research is not yet conclusive, certain lifestyle choices, such as physical activity and diet, may help support brain health and prevent Alzheimer's. Many of these lifestyle changes have been shown to lower the risk of other diseases, like heart disease and diabetes, which have been linked to Alzheimer's. With few drawbacks and plenty of known benefits, healthy lifestyle choices can improve your health and possibly protect your brain.
While these are just some of the suggestions that might help stave off the ravages of Alzheimers, you can do further research by becoming a member of the Alzheimers Association.
For today's recipe I want to give you a "heart healthy" recipe that will serve you well in the fight against Alzheimers. God Bless and Good Health!
SWEET POTATO DELIGHT
Wonderful for the holidays or any time you want a special treat!
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1" chunks
1 large green apple, peeled and diced
1/4 cup raw cranberries (optional)
1/2 cup raisins or craisins
2 TBSP raw, unfiltered honey (LOCAL honey is great for you if you have allergies)
1/2 Cup fresh orange juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place sweet potato chunks in a large baking dish. Top with diced apple, cranberries and raisins. Drizzle with honey and pour orange juice over all. Cover and bake approximately one hour, or until sweet potatoes are tender.
(HEALTH TIP) Aluminum cookware leaches aluminum into our food and therefore into our bodies, particularly if you are cooking acidic foods...use glass or stainless steel instead to stay on the safe side.