Brain Health is important and often neglected. But it is possible to significantly delay or even prevent getting Alzheimer’s. Here’s how:
This is easy, a heart healthy diet is a brain healthy diet. There is a lot of information out there on eating right to protect your heart. Just find it and follow it.
That said, I find that this is also the hardest step to implement. It takes a tremendous amount of will power to change our eating habits…permanently. Anyone who has ever dieted can do things like eat nothing but cabbage soup for a week, or only consume carbohydrates for months at a time. But that “life-time” type of change is another story. Subconsciously, I think we know it and when we are told “change what you eat”, we immediately start to lose steam and enthusiasm.
So, let’s forgot this step until you have started all of the other steps. Then I am going to ask you to make small incremental changes at your own pace. For example:
• Stop snacking before bedtime. After you eat dinner commit to not having another bite until breakfast.
• Cut your salad dressing use in half.
• Buy some apples and eat at least one a day. Experiment, see which ones you like. Buy Fuji apples one time, Gala the next, and Golden Delicious after that (make it fun).
You will be surprised how a small success like this will give you motivation to push to the next level. Lose just two pounds and your self-esteem will shoot through the roof. And if you have started the steps below you will find a hidden well-spring of desire in yourself. You will walk with a spring in your step and you will find yourself smiling a lot more often.
1. Physical exercise is paramount! You must do something, anything that gets your heart rate up, better still if you can do weight bearing exercise – anything that can either build up a little bulk or just tone what you have is vital for good brain health. If you have the time and money try Pilates. Pilates is great for Boomers because it focuses on core body strength. It’s easy to do, and you get fast results.
Or if you can find an hour for yourself, three times a week, join the YMCA. I mention the Y because it is the least expensive gym, and the you will be surprised at the extent of great programs they offer. The YMCA has a lock on community and family building. You will be greeted at the door by real people, and generally speaking their staff are all committed, compassionate folk. There is none of that scrambling for membership dues, and you will never get that suspicious feeling that those “young jocks” are judging you, like you might at those fancy designer gyms.
Best of all you find more programs and lots of genuine support (that you don’t have to hire trainers for!). Heck, they even have a pool! A big giant pool, not a funky little lap pool. Everyone knows the best exercise you can do is swimming, because you are not putting a strain on your joints and it exercises your whole body. Summary: Pilates or the YMCA.
2. Mental exercise is also very important: Challenge your brain, do stimulating stuff. The trick with this is to do something NEW! For example, if you have been doing crossword puzzles for 10 years, then you are not challenging your brain enough. By all means continue doing it, but don’t just stop there. Learn Sudoku puzzles, learn chess, take a class at a community college.
This part always cracks me up. I advise people to challenge their brain and explain why, and the next time I see them they tell me they stopped because it was too hard. That was the point! Here’s a personal example, I finally learned to Sudoku a couple of years ago. I had tried to Sudoku a couple of times before, but it made absolutely no sense, and I swore it was impossible to figure out what numbers went into what boxes (Sudoku is a number puzzle game where you are given a partially completed grid of numbers and are expected to figure out the missing numbers). I even harbored a strong dislike of those puzzles, reasoning that it was a stupid game with ridiculous rules.
What was that except my lazy brain not wanting to challenge itself? Keep that in mind, and if you find yourself, like me, having tried several things and given up, try thinking of your brain as a reluctant little fat kid trying to get out of Gym Class and don’t buy into it! Force your brain to learn for its own good.
Most of us take supplements; that’s good. Everybody also has their own sources of information for what they should take. However, if you only take one supplement, take Omega 3 Fatty Acid! It is the single most important and effective supplement for brain health.
Make sure when you buy it that it is “molecularly distilled” (this takes out impurities like Mercury). The recommended dose that is most often suggested is 1200 – 2400mg.
That said, here are a some further suggestions: take anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants come in all shapes and sizes. Do your homework (it’s good for your brain), start researching which ones you think are most effective. Some good sources are: aged garlic extract, Resveratrol, green tea extract, Vitamins A, E and C, the list is long. Warning: I am not a doctor, therefore I must advise you to check with your own doctor before starting any new supplements. There are good reasons for this, besides strange reactions that you might have, some supplements are very powerful. For example, garlic and ginkgo Biloba are blood thinners, your doctor needs to know you are thinking of taking it as a supplement. Especially if you are already taking a baby aspirin or are on Coumadin.
Be careful, don’t be sucked into the next “fad” anti-oxidant. It seems that every week there is a newly discovered anti-oxidant in the rain forest that is a billion times more powerful than any other. That’s all marketing BS. Someone is trying to make a lot of money off of you. Before you sign up for that special juice cocktail that gets delivered to your door, ask yourself “am I going to do this for the next 10 years or more?”
You cannot change your circumstances and the challenges in your life that stress you out. But you CAN change the way you react to it. There is not enough room here for a proper discussion on the topic, but just be aware that long-term stress is a killer. If you are doing everything listed above to stay healthy, stress will undo it! Unfortunately, knowing that you need to change the way you react to stress is infinitely harder that actually doing it. We are all conditioned over the years to react to stressful events a certain way. Changing this with awareness and willpower is nearly impossible. You may disagree, and if you can change just by deciding to not let stress rule you, God bless you. But if you are like me, your stress tolerance is embedded in your subconscious, and the best way to change your subconscious is with hypnosis or guided imagery. I’ll tell you why.
Your mind is like an iceberg. About 20 percent of an iceberg is above the water, leaving the vast bulk of it below the surface. Your mind is similarly constructed, your conscious mind is around 12 percent, while subconscious mind is about 88 percent. Your subconscious holds your “life-script” the essence of who you are since you were a child. That “life-script” keeps us consistent, it is the status quo of our self image. Good or bad. Our script limits us to these preconceived notions and does not easily change. So when we decide to make significant changes, like exercising, changing food preferences, quitting smoking, losing weight, attracting a different kind of mate, we have to apply a lot of conscious will power to it, and we have to sustain it for a long time. If we let up too soon, our subconscious drags us back to the more familiar self concept – status quo.
Go back to the iceberg example. Imagine that the wind is blowing North but the ocean current is moving South, which way to you think the iceberg will move? South, of course. The wind is pushing against 20% of the mass, but the current is pushing against 80% of the mass. The wind doesn’t have a chance. In similar fashion your mind will have little success when consciously trying to change.
However there is a way to change that “life-script” in the subconscious mind! Hypnosis. Don’t let your preconceived notions about stage show hypnotists making someone quack like a duck, confuse you. Hypnotherapy is a well regarded and accepted therapeutic tool. The best part is it works fast. Guided Imagery is a very mild yet extremely effect form of hypnosis. And the beauty of it is you can listen to guided imagery on a CD in the comfort of your own home and realize amazing results.
For more information on this topic start with my website www.caregiverrelief.com. But don’t stop there, do a google search on guided imagery and you will find tons of great information. Best of luck, and feel free to write me!