Ward off Alzheimer's by keeping your body & brain in shape

Posted: July 24, 2014

A NEW STUDY has delivered compelling evidence that diet, exercise and other prescription-free interventions are the best way to ward off Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's is perhaps the most dreadful of modern diseases: It steals your mind, your personality and your very soul. And once you have it, there is no turning back.

On a personal note, I have seen firsthand the slow, devastating effects of this awful disease on a loved one, as well as the family members.

So, my ears really perked up when I heard about the groundbreaking study that was presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference. It demonstrated that after only two years, individuals at risk for the disease who made dramatic lifestyle changes showed significant improvements.

According to the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability study, lifestyle behaviors like exercise, a healthy diet and friendships staved off the cognitive declines that are common to Alzheimer's.

The two-year randomized study assessed more than 1,200 individuals at risk for Alzheimer's. While the control group received typical medical advice, the lifestyle makeover participants received extensive dietary, exercise, cognitive and social training, as well as training in management of metabolic and vascular risks.

The results of the lifestyle participants was nothing less than stunning and delivered benefits that no technology or medication to date can trump.

Here are some of the simple, though clearly impactful treatments:

* Nutritional counseling sessions with a focus on consuming more fruits, vegetables and fish.

* Initially, emphasis on weight training one to two times a week and cardiovascular training two to four times a week. Ultimately, participants were encouraged to continue with strength training and ramp up cardiovascular training to five to six days per week.

* Throughout the study, various cognitive training exercises were also provided to participants.

So, since there is no medical treatment to cure Alzheimer's once it occurs, prevention is our only hope. Lucky for us, prevention may be as near as the kitchen, the gym and woven into our personal relationships.


Kimberly Garrison is a wellness coach and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia. Her column appears Wednesdays.

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