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Study Shows How You Too Can
Lower Your Stroke and Alzheimer’s Risks
© 2017 Health Realizations, Inc. Update


Stroke is a major health risk. Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive and fatal brain disease, is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. The condition destroys brain cells, leading to memory loss and problems with thinking and behavior that are severe enough to impact work, hobbies and social life, and which get worse over time.

What Strokes and Alzheimer’s have in common is relevant and revealed in depth by Bruce Reed, PhD Associate Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at UC Davis (as he presented a comprehensive research update on Alzheimer's Disease with correlations to strokes)

About 5.3 million people in the United States are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, and every 70 seconds one more person is added to that list, according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.

Further, it's estimated that 10 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer's during their lifetime -- and this number is expected to triple by 2050. This devastating illness causes infinite emotional hardship and requires more than $148 billion each year in direct and indirect costs.

The majority of people with Alzheimer's are over the age of 65 -- an age after which the changes of developing the disease double every five years. But, of course, just because you age or get older does not mean that you will develop Alzheimer's, and there are, in fact, known methods to prevent this epidemic disease -- including a newly revealed step that you can get started on today.


People with the most muscle strength had a 61 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s than those with the least, according to new research.

Build Your Muscles to Keep Your Brain Strong

A new study from researchers at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago found that the greater a person’s muscle strength, the lower their risk of Alzheimer’s was over a four-year period. They also had a lower risk of loss of mental function, which often occurs prior to Alzheimer’s.

The study, which was published in the Annals of Neurology, measured the strength of nine muscle groups in the arms and legs of 970 dementia-free people between the ages of 54 and 100 years.

Even after adjusting for age and education level, which can both affect Alzheimer’s risk, they found muscle strength had a strong association with a lowered risk. In fact, those who were in the top 10 percent for muscle strength were 61 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than the weakest 10 percent.

Those with stronger muscles also showed a slower decline in mental abilities over time.

While the study didn’t show for certain that stronger muscles will prevent Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers said staying fit is important for your cognitive function.

"We certainly think that it is important to be physically active and to work to keep our muscles strong. Good physical health is important for good brain function,” Dr. Patricia A. Boyle of Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago told Reuters.

Other Exercise Forms May Also Reduce Your Stroke and Alzheimer’s Risk

Numerous studies have shown that exercises beyond strength training, even moderate exercise, reduces the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's.

Aerobic exercise also reduces your risk of stroke in many ways. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can lower your blood pressure, increase your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and improve the overall health of your blood vessels and heart. It also helps you lose weight, control diabetes and reduce stress.

"Walking 45 minutes three times a week for six months significantly improved mental ability of older adults with no dementia; a randomly selected control group that did stretching and toning had no change," says Arthur Kramer, a psychologist at the University of Illinois.

Another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine also found that seniors who did as little as 15 minutes a day of modest exercise three times a week reduced their risk of developing dementia by about 30 percent.

Keeping Your Mind Stimulated is Also Important

mental exercise

Mental stimulation, including crossword puzzles, cards, board games, taking a class, socializing and other hobbies, can also ward off cognitive decline.

"A lifetime of intellectual curiosity and mental stimulation" may help to promote brain health, according to the Alzheimer's Association. In fact, numerous studies suggest that stimulating your brain as you age can ward off dementia and cognitive decline.

And according to the Mayo Clinic, "Some researchers believe that lifelong mental exercise and learning may promote the growth of additional synapses, the connections between neurons, and delay the onset of dementia."

An Exercise Program to Stimulate Your Body and Your Mind?

You should make time to do daily, what others pay thousands for, and that you are completely able to do inexpensively right in your own home now workout.

You can and should incorporate a variety of exercise routines for best results. This includes not only aerobic but also strength-training and core-building exercises. You should also strive to give your mind a mental "workout" regularly.

This is especially important in regard to Alzheimer’s disease, as, according to the Center for Healthy Minds, elderly people who experience a lot of psychological distress (worrying, feeling insecure or nervous) are more likely to show signs of mental decline. In fact, one study found that people prone to high levels of distress were twice as likely to develop symptoms of Alzheimer's disease after five years as those who were prone to low levels of distress.

What Else Can Help Lower Your Alzheimer’s Risk?

Giving your mind and body a regular workout is just one way to help you keep your mind strong.

Alzheimer's disease

Simple and enjoyable things like playing cards with your friends, doing crossword puzzles, and going to family get-togethers can keep your mind sharp well into your older years.

1. Add More Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet

One of the best defenses against this disease appears to be in the food you eat. A study published in Alzheimer's and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association found that people who eat the recommended amount of folate have a much lower risk of developing the disease.

Folates are B-vitamins found in leafy green vegetables, oranges, legumes and bananas.

But, "Although folates appear to be more beneficial than other nutrients, the primary message should be that overall healthy diets seem to have an impact on limiting Alzheimer's disease risk," said Maria Corrada of the University of California Irvine's Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia, who co-led the study. Antioxidant-rich foods are also extremely important.

2. Give Your Lifestyle an Upgrade

"The same factors that put you at risk of heart disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, may also increase the likelihood that you'll develop Alzheimer's disease," according to the Mayo Clinic.

This means that leading a healthy lifestyle by avoiding tobacco, excess alcohol, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight may help keep your brain as healthy as your heart.

"The major way we've reduced the death rate from heart disease is through lifestyle changes: eating better, exercising more, smoking less," said David A. Bennett of Rush University in Chicago. "It would require a lot of people to change the way they live, but there's no reason to think we can't have the same impact on Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia."

3. Get Active

Avoid a mostly sedentary life, also referred to as “sittosis”, at all costs. A stagnant body with little to no activity can mean a stagnant mind. Being active means more oxygen rich blood flow to the brain and throughout the body and can be a positive step towards mental vibrancy.

4. If You Have Diabetes, Control It

Poorly controlled diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer's, so if you have this condition be sure to eat right and exercise regularly to keep it under control.

5. Don't Overdo Omega-6 Fats

Omega-6 fats, found in most vegetable oils as well as red meat, poultry, cereals, eggs and nuts, are essential for a healthy brain, as they help to form the membranes that protect brain cells.

However, this is a case where "a lot" is not necessarily better. A recent study by researchers at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Diseases in San Francisco found that raised levels of arachidonic acid, a type of omega-6 fat, is associated with Alzheimer's. The researchers believe it interferes with the brain's nerve cells.

To avoid over consuming Omega 6 fats, eliminate processed foods from your diet (which almost always contain vegetable oil). Another sensible step would be to add Omega 3 fatty acids which are found abundantly in fish and fish oils.

living near high-voltage power lines

A massive new study has shown that living near high-voltage power lines may double your risk of Alzheimer's.

6. Stimulate Your Brain

"A lifetime of intellectual curiosity and mental stimulation" may help to promote brain health, according to the Alzheimer's Association. In fact, numerous studies suggest that stimulating your brain as you age can ward off dementia and cognitive decline.

And according to the Mayo Clinic, "Some researchers believe that lifelong mental exercise and learning may promote the growth of additional synapses, the connections between neurons, and delay the onset of dementia."

Yaakov Stern, a neuropsychologist at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, agrees.

"Just keeping busy seems to tune the brain," he says. In a seven-year study of 1,800 older adults, Stern found that the more "leisure pursuits" a person had, the lower their risk of developing Alzheimer's. Leisure pursuits included:

  • Visiting friends

  • Playing cards

  • Going to the movies

You can also try crossword puzzles, games like chess and checkers, reading, attending a lecture, volunteering or taking a class that interests you.

7. Stay Social

A robust social life also appears to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, according to a study an issue of Alzheimer's & Dementia.

Those who participated in home and family activities, visited friends and relatives, attended parties, card games and other club activities and had home hobbies were less likely to develop the disease, researchers found.

"These activities might be indicative of an enriched environment, which has been shown in animal models to enhance the creation of new brain cells and promote brain repair," said study author Michelle C. Carlson, an associate professor in the department of mental health and the Center on Aging and Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and colleagues.

8. Take Precautions to Avoid Head Injuries

Research has uncovered a strong link between serious head injury and Alzheimer's. You can reduce your risk of head injury by always wearing a seat belt while driving, wearing a helmet on a motorcycle or bicycle and making sure to remove tripping hazards around your home.

9. Relax and Stay Positive

Relaxation and nurturing a positive mood are great strategies for the brain as taking time out to relax and recreate can be helpful for keeping the mind and memory sharp and energetic. Research has proven that too much stress and overwork can have deleterious effects not only on the body but also on the brain, leading to mental strain and lack of focus and concentratio. Make time to relax each day. You will likely see the positive effects in your mood as too will others.

Further, adults who suffer from depression have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's than those who show few or no depressive symptoms.

10. Don't Live Near High-Voltage Power Lines

A major new study based on nearly 5 million people in Switzerland found that those who live within 50 meters of a power line more than double their risk of Alzheimer's and other neuro-degenerative disease, compared with those who live at least 600 meters away.

Before you put your house on the market, keep in mind that this study involved 220-380 kV power lines, which are extra high voltage lines used for long distance, very high power transmission. In contrast, power lines used to connect a typical residential customer to a utility would be less than 1,000 volts (volts not kV).

Sources Stroke

Annals of Neurology;66(11):1339-44.

Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures

American Journal of Epidemiology

Health World Online

Daily Mail

Nature Neuroscience, 11, 1311-1318

USA Today

Alzheimer's Association Facts and Figures Alzheimer's Disease

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