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Understanding Alzheimer's Disease -- Prevention

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No one knows for sure what, if anything, can prevent Alzheimer's disease. Scientists are working on understandinghow people can control their risk for the condition through their lifestyle habits, like diet, exercise, social connections, and staying mentally active.

It’s also hard for doctors to know for certain who has a higher risk for the disease. Alzheimer’s tends to run in families, but if you have a parent or sibling who has it, there’s no guarantee you’ll get it, too.

Understanding Alzheimer's Disease

Find out more about Alzheimer's disease:

Basics

Symptoms

Diagnosis and Treatment

Prevention

 

Your best bet is to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Eat right and exercise regularly to keep your entire body well. 

Nutrition

There’s no one diet that offers a sure way to prevent Alzheimer’s. But some research has found links between certain types of eating plans and better brain health.

The DASH diet, for example, focuses on getting plenty of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy, as well as whole grains, fish, poultry, and nuts. It limits salt, sugar, and red meat.

The Mediterranean diet includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, fish, and sources of healthy fats like nuts and olive oil. It also limits red meat and sweets.

Another eating plan, called the MIND diet, is a mix of the DASH and Mediterranean diets.

Scientists need to do more research on how these plans affect the risk of Alzheimer’s. But at the very least, these heart-healthy approaches are good for your general health.  

There’s no strong evidence that antioxidants (vitamin E, beta-carotene, flavonoids, vitamin C) can prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Studies of vitamins D, B6, B12, and folate also aren’t clear enough for doctors to recommend that people take them to avoid getting the disease.

And although some research has shown that light to moderate alcohol use may protect against dementia, the results aren’t clear. The harmful effects of alcohol probably outweigh any possible benefits.

Exercise Your Brain

It may also help to keep your mind active as much as possible. Things like reading, crossword puzzles, or going to a museum are good for brain health. 

Keep up your connections to family, friends, and neighbors, too. Some studies have shown that staying social might lower the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s.

Take Care of Your Ticker, Too

What’s good for the heart is often good for the head. If you control your blood pressure and cholesterol, you might also lower your chances of getting Alzheimer's disease.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Richard Senelick, MD on April 25, 2015
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