Strategies To Keep Your Mind Strong and Sharp -- A Case Against Alzheimer's

One of the saddest diseases to watch a loved one go through is Alzheimer's Disease. I certainly want to avoid it at all costs! Here are four Alzheimer’s Triggers that can harm your brain AND scientifically proven strategies for avoiding them.

Trigger #1: High Blood Pressure

This is a problem for one in three Americans, and what you may not know is high blood pressure puts your brain at risk. It’s linked to memory loss, vascular dementia (caused by conditions that block or reduce blood flow to the brain) and Alzheimer’s. Hypertension can lead to changes in the brain similar to those caused by a stroke, and may also injure small arteries that nourish the cells that relay information within the brain.

Tips to Protect Your Brain from high blood pressure:

  • Hit up the produce aisle. Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of a diet that’s beneficial to blood circulation and lowering blood pressure. 

Trigger #2: Pesticide Laden Produce

Even though DDT was banned in the US in 1972 (Thankful!), people were unfortunately heavily exposed to this pesticide known to cause cancer and other serious health issues. Forty-five years after DDT was outlawed, traces of the chemical remain in our soil and water (and on produce imported from countries where the chemical is still in use, legally and illegally), and its health problems may extend to the brain.

When blood samples from 86 people with Alzheimer’s were tested, the blood levels of DDT in 74 of the Alzheimer’s patients were four times higher than the control group. This exposure might play a role in the disease by promoting the growth of amyloid proteins.

Tips to Protect Your Brain from high blood pressure:

  • Always wash produce under running water before eating.
  • Before you wash lettuce or other leafy vegetables grown with pesticides, toss the outer layer, where residue accumulates.
  • As a last resort, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to reduce your exposure to any one particular pesticide.

Trigger #3: Habitual Snoring

Sleep apnea, a condition of disrupted breathing and sleep, is linked to an increased risk of brain disease. People with sleep-disordered breathing are more likely to start showing mid cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s at an average age of 73. Those who slept normally were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at an average age of 88.

Tips to Protect Your Brain from high blood pressure:

  • Discuss persistent snoring with your doctor, who may send you to a sleep specialist. If sleep apnea is the diagnosis, you’ll likely end up with a CPAP machine, shown to be effective at restoring normal breathing.

Trigger #4: Type 2 Diabetes

In a study of middle-aged men and women with a family history of Alzheimer’s, researchers linked insulin resistance, a key driver of type 2 diabetes, with poorer performance on memory tests. Diabetes is thought to reduce the size of the brain regions associated with memory. People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Tips to Protect Your Brain from high blood pressure:

  • Shed some excess pounds. Some 86 million US adults have prediabetes, in which blood sugar levels are elevated but not yet high enough to signify type 2 diabetes. Losing 15 pounds cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%.

Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods


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