Alzheimer’s Prevention Day is on May 15th – learn 8 simple steps for how to dementia-proof your diet and lifestyle.

Alzheimer’s, contrary to public opinion, is largely preventable – if you take the right diet and lifestyle actions by middle age. Less than one per cent is ‘in the genes’.

A free 3-minute online Alzheimer’s Prevention Check, devised by a group of world leading prevention experts, shows your personalised risk factors and how to dementia-proof your diet and lifestyle. It’s part of a global initiative, through the website alzheimersprevention.info, to encourage as many as possible to get involved in prevention and join a Citizen Science action involving almost half a million people who are already tracking their cognitive function over time against changes in diet and lifestyle.

They want you to get involved in making prevention a reality, both by taking the 3-minute test which shows you your quickest wins to reduce future risk, but also by inviting you to record a 30 second film of something you do to prevent Alzheimer’s. Here are eight actions you can take to reduce your future risk.

Eight simple steps to take towards Alzheimer’s prevention

Go low carb – Cut right back on sugar, sugary snacks and drinks. Eat less carbs, especially refined white carbs. Eat fruit, don’t drink it. The fibre in whole fruit is essential to slow down the fructose release. Fructose is particularly problematic for the brain. Ketogenic diets also help.

Up Brain fats – Increased intake of omega-3 from seafood and vitamin D reduce dementia risk. You need to eat ’SMASH’ seafood three times a week and supplement omega-3 fish oils to achieve an optimal intake for brain protection. ‘SMASH’ stands for Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies or Albacore tuna, Sardines and Herrings. Vitamin D is also rich in these foods but needs to be supplemented, especially in winter, since it is made in the skin in the presence of sunlight.

Ensure B vitamins – Vitamins B6, B12 and folate, found in greens, are especially essential for your brain. Many people over 60 don’t absorb vitamin B12 well, which is only found in animal foods, and need to supplement it to keep blood homocysteine levels low. In the US 40 per cent of adults over 60 have raised homocysteine (above 11mcmol/l) indicating accelerated brain shrinkage and consequently need to supplement B12 (500mcg), together with vitamin B6 and folate to eliminate this risk. In the UK two in five over 60 are lacking B12. Your doctor can test your homocysteine. A home test kit for homocysteine is available from foodforthebrain.org/tests.

Up Antioxidants & Polyphenols – This means eating lots or fresh, preferably organic veg, herbs, spices and also whole fruit, especially berries, also olives. Use herbs and spices such as oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin and chilli liberally. These are also hero foods in a Mediterranean-style diet, along with seafood and beans.

Keep your gut and gums healthy – The best food for your gut is high in soluble fibres which are in whole oats, chia and flax seeds but also in most whole foods such as nuts and beans. Unsweetened yoghurt provides beneficial bacteria. Dental health is a predictor of dementia so help ensure good dental health by brushing and flossing your teeth.

Active Body – Exercise and keep physically active. Muscle building or toning exercises including yoga and pilates, as well as something aerobic that gets your heart beating is best. Take up an active hobby such as gardening, sports, cycling or walking.

Active Mind – Keep yourself socially and intellectually active. It’s really good to learn new things – perhaps a musical instrument, a language or a new skill. Do something that engages your mind and involves interaction with others. If you have hearing loss, get a hearing aid. Cataract surgery lessens risk. Keep all your senses active.

Sleep well and stay calm – Getting at least 7 hours of good quality sleep is important. Going to bed earlier helps as does avoiding caffeine in the afternoon. Control your alcohol intake. It’s important to keep your stress level under control and do something you enjoy.

To take the Alzheimer’s Prevention Test visit alzheimersprevention.info. Each expert has also recorded a short film of an action you can take today to reduce your risk. The 3-minute check shows you which actions will make the biggest difference to keeping your brain healthy.

To get involved visit alzheimersprevention.info and take the test.

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