With last weeks discovery of a potentially new blockbuster drug that may be the most effective to date to slow progression of Alzheimer’s, I thought it would be timely to review some natural and proven ways to keep our brains young, sharp and focused.
- Reduce high blood pressure: Good cognitive function is associated with systolic blood pressures (SBP) that range between 100-120 mmHg In contrast, living with a high SBP (greater than 140 mmHg) raises the risk of developing age-deteriorating brain deposits (or amyloid plaques) that contribute to memory loss. A study entitled “SPRINT-MIND” presented last week at the Alzheimer’s Association Annual meeting found that lowering systolic BP to less than 120 mmHg reduced memory loss by 15% compared to higher levels. A word of caution: lowering blood pressure in older men and women should be done slowly and cautiously because an overly intensive regimen that lowers SBP too much (e.g., more than 20 mmHg) and too quickly (e.g., as measured in days rather than weeks) may result in dizziness, fatigue and possibly a stroke. Therefore, a wise approach toward intensive blood pressure lowering should be aimed at gradual and sustained reductions that do not cause the symptoms outlined above.
- Eat fish at least twice each week: Fish consumption offers a wide range of benefits for both your heart and mind. Not only does brain function improve with fish consumption, but for every 2 portions (3.5 ounce or 100 grams) of fish consumed weekly, the risk of Alzheimer’s is reduced by more than 20%.
- Add turmeric to your meals: The rate of Alzheimer’s is lower in India and other countries where turmeric is a staple. The principal ingredient of turmeric, curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that also reduces amyloid deposits from forming. Unfortunately, turmeric at low doses is not well absorbed; to enhance absorption add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper to 1 teaspoon (2000 mg) of turmeric to enhance these biologic effects.
- Exercise: Physical activity not only boosts brainpower but may also reduce the probability of developing Alzheimer’s. The good news is that you do not need to run marathons to derive brain protection. Simply add 30 minutes of moderate-exercise (walk at an average speed of 3 to 5 mph) at least 3 days weekly to reap the benefit.
- Manage your Stress: Everyone experiences stress but effective management on a day-to-day basis results in sharper focus and concentration. On the other hand, chronic stress that is not managed effectively places you at increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Check out “Heal Your Heart” to learn the most effective natural tools that I recommend to my patients for managing day-to-day stress and boost brain and heart health. Michael Miller, MD is Professor and cardiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland USA. His original research has been featured in numerous media outlets including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Toronto Globe & Mail and Times of India.