by Geri Walton ~ October 30th, 2008
As you may know there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. That might be why you hear all sorts of stories about what you need to do to make sure cognitive abilities stay strong and how to avoid Alzheimer’s? Some people claim the best way to maintain the brain is to do crossword puzzles or memory training game. Other people claim caffeine or exercise are your best bets to avoid Alzheimer’s disease. So, who’s right and who’s wrong?
- Caffeine may benefit the brain and prevent Alzheimer’s, at least that’s the findings of University of North Dakota researchers at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS). They claim caffeine protects the blood-brain barrier (BBB) because it causes proteins to bind tightly to cells of the BBB and that prevents it from leaking. It also means there is reduced chance that a person will suffer from a neurological disorder such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Daily jogs may do more than keep you physically fit. Exercise may actually keep Alzheimer’s at bay, according to a study done by the University of California at Irvine. Researchers found that exercise affects the brain’s high functioning areas and regulates brain activity. Another study seems to verify exercise helps because in that study, completed at the Rush University Medical Center’s Department of Neurologic Sciences, researchers found physical frailty increases a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 12 percent.Additionally, the University of Illinois researchers lead by Arthur F. Kramer found brain differences between adults who do and don’t exercise. Those individuals who exercise show increase brain volume over those who don’t exercise, and “the prefrontal and temporal cortices – areas that show considerable age-related deterioration – incurred the greatest gains from aerobic exercise.”
- Smokers are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s according to a study published in September 2007 because smokers experience oxidative stress, which is often displayed in Alzheimer’s patients.
- Swedish researchers have also found people who have a vitamin B12 and folate deficiency are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease because it “affects neurotransmitters or the levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the body,” which results in a neurotoxic effect and leads to cellular death.
- University of Michigan researchers found that brain training games only work if you use the right strategies and working hard without working smart, won’t improve your brain’s abilities. That doesn’t mean you should give up and let your brain do nothing. The Alzheimer’s Association encourages people to stimulate the brain and stay active by reading, writing, doing crosswords, practicing memory exercises, playing games, and enrolling in classes.
The National Institute on Aging also encourages people to engage in stimulating activities. In addition, they recommend people lower cholesterol and blood pressure, control diabetes, and exercise regularly. However, they also point out that even if a person drinks caffeine, exercises, eats healthy, and plays brain games, it might not override genetics and prevent a person from getting Alzheimer’s disease.