Alzheimer's disease is increasingly growing more and more common among the aged. In America alone 50% of people above the age of 85 and 10% above the age of 65 are victims of this disease. Alzheimer's is yet more prevalent in the west than it is in India, leading one to believe that perhaps increased intake of junk food, alcohol consumption, constant stress, overuse of OTC medication, cigarette smoking, lack of exercise and physical exertion contribute to memory loss. However no specific causes can be attributed to this disease, as the human brain is thus far largely a mystery to medical science.
What is Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's disease is a deterioration of brain cells with age, leading to memory loss. It starts with loss of short-term memory, and slowly leads to loss of all brain functions. A person with Alzheimer's will first start forgetting things they learnt of a moment ago, then will start forgetting their friends and people they met recently, then they will stop recognising their children and will slowly withdraw into a world of their own. They thus need constant looking after, care and attention, to make sure they don't wander out of the home, as they will never be able to return.
Most of us take our health for granted when we are young, and then wish we had taken more care of ourselves when we are confronted with illnesses in our future. Alzheimer's too is believed to be largely a lifestyle disease, and occurs depending on the kind of lifestyle you have lead.
The importance of a well balanced diet cannot be overstated. Although junk food is fine once in a while, it should not be had too often as it is not an adequate meal. Whole wheat breads and pasta, unrefined flour, nuts like almonds, walnuts, should all be had with regularity.
Amongst Indians who regularly consume Indian food, Alzheimer's is still a comparatively rare disease. Why is this so? Research leads to the tentative conclusion that this may be due to the turmeric so liberally used in Indian dishes. Curcumin, the yellow pigment found in turmeric, is very good for the brain in various ways and has no known side effects. So if you needed another reason to consume turmeric regularly, you have it. Ginger too has similar beneficial effects. The most effective factor is that both have anti-inflammatory properties, and Alzheimer's is largely caused due to inflammation in the brain. Thus those who take anti-inflammatory medication on a regular basis to control other problems like Arthritis may be less prone to developing Alzheimer's. Naturally these medications do have varied side effects, so the safest preventives would be to increase your intake of turmeric and ginger.
Also, consume more fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants.
Regular stress for a long time has an adverse effect on your heath in various ways, and is also believed to be one of the causes of Alzheimer's. Taking up meditation is a very effective way of controlling stress.
Physical and Mental Exercise
Keeping your brain occupied is one of the surest ways to ensure it stays sharp. Keep using your brain in anyway possible during the day. Do the crossword puzzle that comes with your daily newspaper. Take up a course. Read more. This, combined with physical exercise, will go a long way in keeping your brain healthy. Remember that physical exercise increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, rejuvenating it, increasing blood flow, and removing waste.
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