Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neural degenerative disorder that damages the hippocampus and causes severe memory loss. One of the main causes of this damage is chronic inflammation due to poor lifestyle behaviors (sugar, sitting, stress, lack of sleep, lack of exercise). Currently, there is no medical cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, research is emerging to show that the best and most effective way to prevent, and even reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s disease is through targeted exercise, holistic nutrition, stress reduction, and proper sleep patterns.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), a higher intensity form of cardiovascular or strength exercise is one of the most powerful lifestyle interventions known to protect the health of the adult brain. This is due to the body’s ability to produce increased levels of Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF). BDNF is critical for growth, functioning, and survival of brain cells in key brain regions including the hippocampus. BDNF enhances communication between neurons (brain cells) and even promotes growth of new brain cells within the hippocampus. Because HIIT produces more BDNF than slow, continuous aerobic exercise, it is an ideal way to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
For new exercisers, it is best to begin with a simple aerobic base training program that incorporates core stability and joint mobility before undertaking more rigorous forms of cardiovascular training like HIIT. Performing high intensity exercise without first building a solid aerobic base and core strength will increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and musculoskeletal injury. The key to success is to ensure that you begin at a level that is safe for your current fitness status and then increase time and intensity appropriately. For those just starting out, engaging the services of an Exercise Physiologist or Advanced Health and Fitness Trainer may be helpful.
For those who want to go it on their own, the Restore Mobility Program (for beginners) or the Energize Your Metabolism Program (for experienced exercisers) by ReversAge Health & Fitness are ideal options. Unlike many other exercise products available today, these plans were created from a health enhancement perspective. Expertly designed, scientifically based, and comprehensive, the Restore Mobility and Energize Your Metabolism programs will progress you safely and effectively to higher levels of fitness at an enjoyable and easy to manage pace without the unpleasant side effects or increased risk of injury associated with sudden high intensity exercise.
From a healthy aging perspective, food has two main functions. First, to provide a steady supply of energy to the over 100 billion neurons in the brain. Second, to prevent disease. Put another way, food is your brain’s energy source and a natural medicine. Eating the right foods will help to protect your brain and keep it functioning properly. Likewise, the wrong foods increase the risk of age-related brain diseases and disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cognitive decline, and impaired memory. But what are the best foods for healthy aging?
The ReversAge Meal Plan
The ReversAge Meal Plan is potentially the healthiest nutrition program on the planet and is designed to support brain health, heart health, longevity, and weight managemen. Based on the scientifically proven Mediterranean Diet, the ReversAge Meal Plan emphasizes clean fish, antioxidant rich vegetables, healthy fats, heart healthy whole grains, high fiber intake, and moderate intake of red meats and alcohol. Studies show that those who eat this type of food often, have less cognitive decline, experience improvements in cognitive function, and are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, compared with those who do not. In addition, eating these types of foods is considered by many to be the best eating plan for a healthy heart, due to its ability to lower the risk of heart disease by reducing levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. But, that’s not all. In addition to improving brain and heart health, the ReversAge Nutrition Plan can also:
- Help protect against Type 2 Diabetes
- Keep you strong and agile as you age
- Enhance your mood
- Fight cancer
- Encourage healthy weight loss
- Reduce your risk of Parkinson’s Disease
- Improve the health of your skin
- Help you live longer
- Improve fertility
- Relieve pain
- Promote relaxation
- Reduce inflammation
The Brain Cleans Itself of Alzheimer’s-Related Proteins During Sleep
From research, we understand that the risk for brain dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease is increased by excessive weight, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and chronic inflammation. We also know that exercise and good nutrition help control these conditions, as well as decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Sleep is also a well-known positive strategy for improving health and weight management and now, new scientific studies are revealing the importance of quality sleep in long-term brain health. Scientists at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Wisconsin, Madison have discovered that people who experience excessive sleepiness during the day may build up larger amounts of beta amyloid plaques and tau proteins (biomarkers believed to be the toxins responsible for the development of Alzheimer’s disease). Researchers also found that people who routinely sleep poorly showed more of these Alzheimer’s biomarkers than individuals who consistently slept well.
This may be due to a newly discovered system, your glymphatic system. Evidence suggests that when you sleep, your glymphatic system causes the space between brain cells to increase allowing the brain to flush out toxins (including beta amyloid plaques and tau proteins) that build up during waking hours. If you sleep poorly or go without sufficient sleep on a regular basis, you risk missing out on the full effects of this cleansing process. This research shows the importance of healthy sleep in long-term brain health and suggests a new role for sleep in health and disease. Not only do you maximize the repair of muscle tissue during sleep, it now appears to be essential for brain repair as well.
If you worry about long-term cognitive health or have fears of developing Alzheimer’s, the best thing you can do is to translate your worry into preventative action, and take care of yourself today. Based on all we know, it’s clear that properly prescribed exercise, holistic nutrition, and getting plentiful, high-quality sleep are important parts of any action plan designed to help you feel better, look better, think better, and live your best life.