It all started about 3 years ago. My Grandma sure enough was showing signs of dementia, which has since switched over to Alzheimer’s. Although the two are related in many ways, Dementia is a symptom, whereas Alzheimer’s is a disease. You can read more about the signs of Alzheimer’s HERE. I feel very fortunate that while many of my cousins names and faces have been forgotten by grandma, she always remembered me…up until recent. My grandparents and I were very close when I was growing up. Many a time I’d sleep over at their house if I was angry at my own parents for teenage reasons. So my heart was sort of broken this last time I saw grandma and she had to ask me who I was.
There is no cure on the horizon for Alzheimer’s AND it’s expected to triple in the coming years. You also need to know that dementia/Alzheimer’s starts 30 years before ANY symptoms show. It affects 50% of seniors over the age of 85. Knowing that Alzheimer’s could be taking effect right this very moment in your body is scary. The best prevention is to decrease illnesses that increase risk, such as: Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression and sleep apnea. YOU REALLY HAVE NO TIME TO WAIT!– Don’t wait until you are sick to start worrying about your health.
Let me tell you a few things I know for certain about my grandmother that may have led up to Alzheimer’s. I can tell you she is a wonderful person and I love her dearly, but grandma and grandpa (God love em’) always ate processed food. Grandma was always obese or overweight when I was growing up. She didn’t ever think twice about drinking soda daily, eating sugar or bread or eating out at fast food restaurants. Taco Tuesday at Del Taco was their sanctuary! And any restaurant catering to senior citizens or offering 50% off meals…well, you can be sure you’d see them first in line at that buffet (it was usually a buffet). I don’t recall cooking in the kitchen with grandma. I don’t recall ever, her even being a good cook. Toast slathered in margarine maybe, but homemade meals…scarce. At least from what I witnessed. So knowing what I know right now about the brain and nutrition, it’s no surprise to me that grandma’s brain took a major dive. I only hope that others can prevent this tragedy within their own families by following a few guidelines.
1. Get your diet right! I personally would recommend an elimination diet for everyone. Cutting out gluten, soy, dairy, corn and sugar. I would hold strict to this diet for about a month. You’ll for sure notice significant changes after only two weeks though. After about a month, you can slowly bring in one of these things at a time and see how it makes you feel. So what can you eat then? Good sourced proteins (grass-fed beef, organic chicken, turkey, wild caught salmon) Just google: Mediterranean diet, and do that. They basically live off of high quality fish, nuts and seeds, berries and lots and lots of vegetables. I’m not talking about the vegetables that you supplement from a pill. I’m talking about the actual vegetables you see in the produce section. Eat those. Dark leafy green ones. LOTS OF THEM! Eat more fat! Don’t be afraid of fat. Your brain is mostly made up of fat. It needs fat. Avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, walnuts, again fish. To get really specific about the ten best foods for the brain, click HERE.
DID YOU KNOW…AS YOUR WEIGHT GOES UP, THE ACTUAL PHYSICAL SIZE AND FUNCTION OF YOUR BRAIN GOES DOWN!!–this is a landmark study.
Self-loathing would be indulging in candy, cookies, cinnabon’s etc…This is not self love.
AS YOUR WEIGHT GOES UP, YOUR ABILITY TO THINK AND REASON GOES DOWN!
When your brain is healthy, you’re happier, healthier, wealthier, wise and make better decisions.
2. Work on getting more exercise. This, you’ve certainly heard many many times. Just do it already! All you have to do is get up, walk out your front door, and go for a walk. As you get better at walking, maybe you try a light jog. Maybe you gain confidence to run a race. Good things happen to you when you’re moving. Your brain can think so much better when you’re moving.
3. Are you getting less that 7 hours of sleep a night? This is bad. I don’t care how old you are. Your body should still be able to produce melatonin. If you set yourself up for a good night’s sleep, you’ll get it. Cut out screen time an hour before bed. Lay down in the horizontal position to prep your body for good sleep. Get some black out curtains. Read my article on getting good sleep HERE.
I also want to put a plug in for stress management. I would start a meditation practice or really learn some deep breathing techniques for when life throws those curve balls…and it most certainly will! Be prepared. Don’t stress out.
4. Drink a lot of water. Staying hydrated helps the brain in so many ways. for one, it flushes out the toxins in our body and helps our blood cells create more cells. You probably aren’t drinking nearly enough as you think you are. Carry around a gallon and sip on it throughout the day. Just notice how far down the jug you actually get.
5. Connections! We need to connect with others. It’s our nature as human beings. But just watch out! The people you hang around are contagious! I’ve said this before…if you hang around fat, lazy people all day, guess what you’re likely to become? (answer: fat and lazy). If you really want to make a positive change, go find the healthiest person you possibly can stand, and hang out with them as much as you can. Just watch what happens to yourself! You change.
6. Brain games! Brain games can really get you thinking in the right direction! Here is a great website for playing some brain games!
This is where I would start if I were you and you were concerned about dementia/Alzheimer’s disease. And I think we all should be. If those numbers are going to triple, that could very well include you and me if we’re not acting now to change our brains.
If you want to ready about the six pillars of brain health, check it out here
Knowing that I could be at risk for Alzheimer’s disease (some days I sure feel like I am), I am going to try extra hard to stick to these 6 things I know will work. In the meantime I will love and care for good old granny and be very patient and kind to her. One day her brain will be whole again and I can’t wait to see her like that!
What are some things you are doing to boost your brain power?
We’ll discuss the brain even more in future articles as I dive into children and their brains. Food definitely affects them too!
Health Coach Heather