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Take steps to prevent Alzheimer's
and other forms of dementia.
By Anne Copley, Contributor for the Yahoo! Network

 
The Key to Avoiding Senility
Did you know that you have the power to reduce or eliminate your risk of getting Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia?

The same healthy lifestyle that prevents heart attacks and strokes also prevents Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, according to award-winning neuroscientist Dr. Jeanette Norden of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in her 36-lecture course titled "Understanding The Brain."

How to Achieve a Healthy Lifestyle
To achieve a healthy lifestyle, follow these 5 steps[2]:

  1. Avoid smoking. Tobacco contains chemicals that can damage the heart and blood vessels, and cause narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
     
  2. Exercise 30 minutes a day. Daily exercise can include walking the dog, taking the stairs, gardening, housekeeping, and other ordinary tasks. The exercise does not have to be strenuous in order to be effective.
     
  3. Eat a heart-healthy diet. The Mayo Clinic teaches us to avoid harmful fats (saturated and trans fats). Saturated fats are found in red meat, dairy products, coconut, and palm oils. Trans fats are found in deep-fried fast foods, bakery products, packaged snack foods, margarines, and crackers. If you see the word "hydrogenated" on the label, do not buy the food item, because this indicates that the product contains trans fat. Additionally, eat five to ten servings per day of fruits and vegetables, which not only reduces one's risk of heart disease but also cancer.
     
  4. Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight often leads to conditions that increase the risk of heart disease: high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. To determine a healthy weight for yourself, calculate your body mass index (BMI). One such free online calculator can be found at ThinAndHealthyForever.com
     
  5. Get regular health screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar. A healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury. A healthy cholesterol level is a "total cholesterol" of 150 or less[3], according to renowned cardiac surgeon, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., and author of "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease." Additionally, since diabetes is a risk factor for developing heart disease, the Mayo Clinic advises us to have a fasting blood sugar test every three to five years, more frequently if blood sugar levels are found to be outside normal ranges.
 
In summary, we can reduce our risk of becoming senile by following the above guidelines for a healthy lifestyle.

References:
[1] "Understanding The Brain" by Dr. Jeanette Norden, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
[2] Mayo Clinic Health Information: www.mayoclinic.com/health/heart-disease-prevention/WO00041
[3] "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease" by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr.