Published on: January 7, 2015
by Nick Tate for NewsMax Health:
The graying of the baby boom generation is expected to bring a wave of new Alzheimer’s cases, with the number of Americans with the memory-robbing disorder projected to triple over the next three decades. Related healthcare costs could hit $1.5 trillion by 2050, unless new treatments are developed. That’s twice what the U.S. now spends on all healthcare services.
Now for the good news: A half-dozen strategies have been proven to combat age-related mental declines and dementia. They may even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, according to one of the nation’s leading mental-health specialists.
Eric Braverman, M.D., tells Newsmax TV’s Meet The Doctors program that it’s possible to maintain your mental edge well into older age by adopting a series of simple lifestyle changes that are good for your mind and body alike. And it’s never too early to start adopting those healthy habits.
“We’re basically developing dementia to some degree or another from [age] 30 and 40 on … We see lots of [brain] atrophy from 30 and 40 on, lots of early dementia, loss of metabolism, loss of energy in the brain, and then people forget, their judgment’s impaired,” he explains. “All these mistakes that we make, all these memory errors. They’re like our computers that get filled up with spam and make errors.”
But Dr. Braverman notes these trends can be reversed, noting what’s good for the body is also good for the mind.
“In fact the degree in which we can … and repair the process is now equal to plastic surgery,” he says. “The brain is connected to the body and most people are delivered head first, the same way a baby is delivered.”
Dr. Braverman has spent 40 years exploring the connections between physical and mental health and come up with a six-step strategy to maintain a healthy mind and body—a prescription for healthy living that research shows can reverse and even prevent age-related mental declines.
No. 1: Exercise. “The first step is always to look at your weight,” he says. “It turns out that obesity is very dementia-causing. There’s a lot of women that are thin, flabby—or what we call normal weight obesity. They have normal weight but they’re still obese because they’re not fit. The basic rule is you really have to exercise an hour a day.”
No. 2: Sleep: “You have to sleep … seven hours [every night],” he says. About 30 million Americans have chronic sleep problems, which increase the risk for heart disease, depression, and other serious health problems. Many resort to sleeping pills, which carry risks when taken long term. Better options, Dr. Braverman says, include resorting to mild sleep-inducing alternatives like chamomile tea and managing stress.
No. 3: Mental function. Anxiety, depression, addictions, and other mental-health disorders can increase the risk for developing Alzheimer’s later in life, many studies show. That’s why it’s critical to manage such conditions effectively with antidepressants, therapy and other mental-health strategies, he advises.
No. 4: Early testing. Dr. Braverman recommends working with your doctor to determine your “baseline” cognitive abilities, memory, verbal IQ and judgment skills. A brain scan can also provide details on how well your brain is functioning.
No. 5: Diet and nutrition: Eating a healthy diet—loaded with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fiber and nutrient-rich foods—is critical to maintaining your mental edge as you grow older. Dr. Braverman recommends the Mediterranean diet, drinking lots of green tea, and avoiding sugary high-carb processed foods as much as possible.
No. 6: Natural hormones. As we age, our levels of natural hormones—including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA—decline. That’s why it’s important to consider bio-identical hormone supplements, if you are deficient. Work with your doctor to determine what’s right for you.
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