Thanks to Hollywood, Alzheimer's has been thrust into the spotlight, leaving many people wondering if there's anything we can do to fight this disease. Having had relatives suffer from Alzheimer's, I have always known that I might be diagnosed with the disease in the future. While there's currently no cure for Alzheimer's, there are still ways to slow the effects of the disease. In a 2014 pilot study, nine out of the ten participants were able to fight off some of their dementia symptoms.
None of these ideas are all that radical, and if you're already living a healthy lifestyle, you might not have to make any changes at all. However, college students sometimes develop bad habits, and health goes on the back burner. With just a little more thought put into your everyday routine, you can easily improve your health and memory.
1. Improve Your GI Health
Gastrointestinal health has been linked to brain health. Adding fermented foods as well as probiotics and prebiotics can reduce signs of dementia. If you don't want to go to the doctor, here are some easy ways to reset your digestive track.
2. Fast Strategically
Scientists suggest allowing a three hour period between dinner and sleep as well as 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. Planning this type of fasting gives the body time to destroy beta-amyloid, a protein that builds up in Alzheimer's patients. The small pieces of this protein block the cell-to-cell communication at synapses.
3. Follow the MIND Diet
The MIND diet includes: leafy greens, one additional serving of other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine. All of these foods are meant to be consumed in moderation with as few as one serving a week (fish) and as many as every day (wine).
The most important aspect of following this diet is to include as many vegetables as possible, especially leafy greens. Don't get too bummed out about all the veggies, you still get to kick back with a nice glass of wine at the end of the day.
4. Limit Artery-Clogging Food
These foods include red meat, cheese, butter, pastries, and sweets. While there is still room to treat yourself, scientists say limit yourself to five sweets a week, cheese once a week, a tablespoon of butter per week, and four servings of red meat in a week. Lucky for me, my dining hall doesn't serve a 10oz. ribeye every day.
5. Reduce Heavy Metal Toxins
Consuming high amounts of tuna can elevate mercury levels. Exposure to heavy metals, including high mercury levels, has been linked to dementia symptoms. This isn't to say cut out tuna altogether, but definitely be mindful of your consumption.
6. Cut out Inflammatory Foods
Inflammatory foods include: grains, starchy vegetables, and sugars. In the study conducted, participants who showed the best results cut out simple carbohydrates. While you will have to cut back on pasta, there are still tasty low carb options out there.
7. Get More Sleep
While there are tons of benefits to getting enough sleep, getting the recommended 7-9 hours a night in college is sometimes not an option. Between midterms, papers, clubs, and having time to eat, five hours of sleep may seem more realistic. However, your body will suffer the consequences. Planning time more effectively seems like a hassle but you'll be thanking yourself when you're feeling fantastic the next day.
8. Balance Your Hormones
According to CNN, the stress hormone cortisol can cause harm to the memory center of the brain (hippocampus). Easy ways to balance your hormones include reducing stress through meditation, exercise, and diet.
While the onset of Alzheimer's may seem like a huge demon to be dealt with in the future, taking active steps to build up your memory function today can make a huge difference.