(Natural News) Many dread getting older. The loss of vitality, mobility and even loved ones is a daunting prospect, and what makes it even more frightening is the possibility that one could develop Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. Someone is diagnosed with this condition every three seconds, and a third of all seniors die from some form of dementia. Last year, an estimated 5.4 million Americans were battling Alzheimer’s, and with people living longer and longer lives, it is estimated that upwards of 42 million people will be diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease by 2020.
New hope has emerged from a study conducted by researchers at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In one of the first studies ever to focus on how a specific food can impact brain health, researchers reviewed and summarized all available scientific information regarding anti-dementia compounds in edible and culinary mushrooms. They found that several edible mushrooms contain special compounds that have positive effects on brain health both in vitro and in vivo, protecting the brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. These special compounds in mushrooms actually foster nerve growth in the brain and protect against the inflammation associated with such conditions. The study was published in the Journal of Medicinal Food earlier this year.
“In contrast to the body of literature on food ingredients that may benefit cardiometabolic diseases and cancer, very few studies have focused on food that may benefit neurodegenerative diseases,” says Journal of Medicinal Food Editor-in-Chief Sampath Parthasarathy. “The current study might stimulate the identification of more food materials that are neuroprotective.”
Increasing your intake of mushrooms (be sure to only eat the edible ones) is not the only preventative measure against Alzheimer’s. There are at least six other natural ways, fully within your control, in which you can increase your chances of fending off dementia.
Exercise regularly: According to HelpGuide.org, “[R]egular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 50 percent.” Exercise stimulates brain activity, slowing down the deterioration associated with cognitive problems.
Maintain a healthy diet: A Mediterranean diet, rich in fish, vegetables, beans, whole grains and olive oil is high in healthy fats and helps prevent the production of the beta-amyloid plaques in the brain which have been associated with Alzheimer’s.
Mental stimulation: Keeping your mind active, particularly with activities that involve communication, multitasking and organization, can slow down or even reverse the onset of dementia. It has been proven that people who keep themselves mentally stimulated by continuing to learn and challenge themselves as they get older, have a much lower risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Improve the quality of your sleep: Quality, uninterrupted sleep is vital to flushing toxins from the brain. According to HelpGuide.org, “[S]tudies have linked poor sleep to higher levels of beta-amyloid, a sticky brain-clogging protein that in turn further interferes with sleep – especially with the deep sleep necessary for memory formation.” It is important to note that light-emitting devices like cellphones and e-readers can be very disruptive to the circadian rhythms which control our sleep patterns. The light from these devices contains more blue light than natural light, negatively affecting melatonin production, and interfering with the quality of our sleep.
Managing stress: When the brain is exposed to regular, ongoing stress, nerve cell growth within the area of the brain that controls memory is harmed. It is therefore vitally important if we are to prevent dementia to control and reduce stress. There are various ways to do this, including mindfulness, deep breathing, and reflexology treatments, to name just a few. For some people a long walk or bicycle ride might do the trick. Whatever the case may be, find something that works for you and stick to it.
Social interaction: Researchers have found that as we age, spending regular, quality time with loved ones and close friends can help to prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.