Keep your mind sharp with 'Alzheimer's Prevention Program'

As we age, our brains age right along with us, making us more susceptible to getting Alzheimer’s disease.

But according to one author, there may be ways to prevent the onset of the disease.

Dr. Gary Small, author of the book ‘Alzheimer’s Prevention Program,’ details ways to keep your brain function at its highest level.

“Genetics account for only part of the risk,” Small said.  “We know that everyday choices we make in lifestyle have an impact on delaying onset of symptoms.”

In the book, Small outlines a ‘Seven Day Program,’ which details the first week of exercises and routines that can help sharpen your mind.

“It combines several important areas of your life where you can make a difference,” Small said.  “Physical exercise, mental exercise, healthy diet and stress management.  And if you can do these things together, there’s sort of a synergy where you start seeing results right away which motivates you to continue for the long haul.”

Along with mental exercises, Small recommends aerobic exercises, which helps get your blood pumping and keeps your brain healthy.  Another important way to enhance brain function is by keeping it occupied by reading, doing crossword puzzles, etc.

“We know that if we work out our brain cells, they grow - they become stronger,” Small said.  “And when using our brain scan technology we can see the results right away.  You start working out your mind, you can see extensive increases in brain activation.  And we think it’s protective of those brain cells as we age.”

Small’s guidelines don’t just include physical and mental exercises.  According to his book, a person’s risk of getting Alzheimer’s can be greatly reduced depending on the types of foods that they eat.  Overall, he said it’s important to be healthy in all areas of a person’s life.

“What I would recommend is that for people to try to live a healthy lifestyle right now,” Small said.  “It will help their body; it will help their brain.  And a simple thing: As we age, we take medicines for things like blood pressure or high cholesterol.  If you take those medicines, you will lower your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and control your medical health.”