Can Diet and Exercise Lower Alzheimer’s Risk?

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Playing How to Fend Off Alzheimer's with Natalie Morales

Can lifestyle choices, like the food you eat and getting regular exercise, help to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s?

The Doctors welcome Dr. Lisa Mosconi, who wrote, "The XX Brain: The Groundbreaking Science Empowering Women to Maximize Cognitive Health and Prevent Alzheimer's Disease", and NBC News’ Natalie Morales, an Alzheimer’s champion who lost her mother-in-law Kay the disease, to discuss.

Dr. Mosconi explains the top risk factor for Alzheimer’s is age, followed by simply just being a woman, noting that 20 percent of women aged 45 and up may develop Alzheimer’s and that almost two-thirds of all Alzheimer’s patients in America are women. Sh explains women lose the hormone estrogen (which provides the brain protection from harm) as they age, which can be linked to the risk of developing the disease.

Some possible way to prevent developing Alzheimer’s, according to Dr. Mosconi, include:

Increase, boost or maintain your estrogen levels: She says some women may need hormonal replacement therapy if their estrogen levels are off and she says to speak with your doctor to determine if this approach is right for you.

Eat more plants: "If you eat enough plant-based foods with regularity, that is effectively like a very gentle hormonal therapy," she notes, suggesting women eat estrogen-rich plants like flax seeds, sesame seeds, chickpeas, dried apricots, figs, whole grains, legumes, and berries. She notes that even just have 2 to 3 servings of berries each week can help reduce your risk of cognitive decline. 

Exercise: Staying active is so important to one's overall health including brain health. Dr. Mosconi explains that women who are physically fit during mid-life have a 30 percent lower risk of developing  Alzheimer’s and dementia. She suggests getting moderate-intensity exercise, 3 to 4 times per week, is very beneficial for our brains.

Staying social and maintaining friendships: The Alzheimer’s expert says keeping in contact with friends and making sure you have a support system in place can lower stress levels and help the brain.

Continue to learn and challenge your brain: Dr. Mosconi also notes that keeping the synapses of the brain firing is like exercise for the brain. She says things like learning a new hobby, watching an inforamtive documentary, or learning a new language can all keep the brain active and engaged and be very beneficial to the overall brain health. 

Learn about more resources for Alzheimer's and all other dementia from The Alzheimer's Association.

Watch: Why Two-Thirds of All Alzheimer’s Patients are Women

Watch: Lower Your Alzheimer’s Risk By Adding These Foods to Your Week

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Playing Exercise to Avoid Alzheimer’s? It Just Might Work

 

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