With almost a million people in the UK living with Alzheimer's disease, dementia can feel like a ticking time bomb. Especially if it's one of your family members who has it. Worryingly, it's also thought that the number of cases of Alzheimer's has gone up drastically in recent years. You could argue that detection and diagnosis have improved, but research does suggest that the number of people with Alzheimer's is continuing to grow.
Many experts believe this is down to massive changes in the environment and lifestyles we live today. Not getting enough sleep, off-the-scale stress levels, poor diet, and environmental toxins are all thought to play a significant role in the development of dementia. All these external factors can trigger rampant inflammation in our cells, which in turn damages the blood-brain barrier – essential to shield your brain from toxins in the blood that harm brain function.
But is there any way you can stop this happening? According to Dr Sabine Donnai, a longevity and brain expert, absolutely! There are lots of interventions anyone can undertake to reverse damage to your brain cells and help prevent cognitive decline. In this brilliant article in the Telegraph, Boudicca Fox-Leonard spoke to Dr Donnai about the lifestyle changes anyone can make to safeguard your brain health.
Here are some of Dr. Donnai's top tips to protect yourself from Alzheimer’s disease:
1. Fasting and ketones can help prevent Alzheimer's disease:
Heard of ketones? These are acids your body makes when it breaks down fat which fuel your brain cells. You can boost ketone production by intermittent fasting. This doesn't mean starving yourself for hours. Instead, Dr Donnai recommends not eating for 16 hours and avoiding eating later than three hours before bedtime. Do this three times a week and you can jumpstart your cognitive function. Why? Because not eating when you don't need to will ensure you're providing your brain with the right nutrients at the right times.
Want a head start? Give our Keto BHB Plus patch a go. This clever supplement contains beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), a compound that is one of the three ketone bodies that the body produces during ketosis. Your brain thrives on a high-ketone diet, so this patch will help to give it a kickstart.
2. Eat brain-friendly foods:
The right kind of fats are your number one essential. The brain is a very fatty tissue, so providing plenty of chain fatty acids omega-3s is a must to boost your brainpower. You can top up your levels by eating plenty of olive oil (this is better cold on a salad than heated up for cooking which turns it into bad cholesterol). Other must-haves are oily fish, flaxseed, pasture-fed red meat, good-quality cheese, and eggs.
Pop on one of our handy Omega-3 Plus patches too, packed with a comprehensive blend of all the essential fatty acids: ALA, EPA, and DHA. This patch is a simple and super effective way to boost your Omega-3 and is particularly excellent for topping up if you're vegan, or not keen on fish or dairy.
Magnesium, zinc, and vitamins B and D are also must-haves for optimising brain function and preventing Alzheimer's disease. Any dark-coloured fruit and veg like blueberries, blackberries, aubergine, and beetroot are packed with them. As is leafy green veg such as kale, broccoli, and cabbage – so you know what to add to your shopping list. Brain food carbs include wholegrains, legumes, and sweet potatoes. So make these part of your diet too.
3: Sack off sugar and tend to your gut microbiome:
Sorry sugar-holics, the sweet treats have to go if you want to look after your brain. Sugar causes inflammation and damage to the blood brain barrier and allows toxins to settle in your brain tissue – a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. It's particularly damaging if eaten between meals, so those mid-afternoon biscuits are best avoided. Need something sweet to keep you going? Try a square of 70 percent dark chocolate – it's been shown to be good for the brain.
You also need to make sure you're eating the right foods to support your gut microbiome. Like so many aspects of wellbeing, good gut health has been linked to better brain function. If you have too many bad bacteria in your gut they can produce amyloid, which enters your circulation and can build up to your brain and produce plaques.
When it comes to a healthy microbiome a varied diet is key Dr Donnai suggests aiming for 100 different foods a week, including herbs and spices. If you'd like some more tips on how to look after your gut microbiome read our dedicated blog here.
4. Detox your diet to avoid Alzheimer’s disease:
One of the reasons scientists believe Alzheimer's disease is on the rise is because of the increase in the amount of toxins in our environment. So, it makes sense to try and detox and limit your exposure to them as much as possible. Avoid ultra-processed foods, which are packed with nasties. A good rule of thumb is to check the ingredients and if there are loads of additives, colourants, and artificial sugars – avoid!
It's also best to eat organic fruit and veg where you can, which won't have been treated with pesticides. In particular: apples, cucumbers, and strawberries have a high water content and absorb lots of chemicals. How you prepare your food matters too. Avoid aluminum cookware and don't heat food or drinks in plastic containers – or you'll end up with an extra side of toxins with whatever you're eating.
It's impossible to avoid all toxins, but you can give your body a helping hand getting rid of them. Drinking 1.5L of water per day is a great start and will help detoxify through the kidneys, liver, and gut. You can also support the detox process with our brilliant Glutathione Plus patch. Known as 'the master anti-oxidant' glutathione helps your body combat damaging free radicals, aids DNA synthesis, and gives your liver a helping hand getting rid of nasties.
5. Stay active:
Looking for an easy way to lower your risk of Alzheimer's disease and boost your brain function? Try some gentle exercise. Getting active increases the amount of oxygen in the brain. The more blood flow there is to your brain, the more nutrients it gets and the more toxins can be carried away.
But the benefits don't end there, light exercise also reduces your stress hormones, another trigger for dementia. Dr Donnai recommends a 30-minute daily walk, but make sure you include 60-second bursts of really fast walking every four minutes to really get results. Add in two 20-minute sessions of strength training a week and bingo, everything you need to keep your body and mind ticking over.
6. Dial up your happiness levels:
Numerous studies have shown that depression and Alzheimer's disease are closely linked. Periods of feeling low are part of life, but did you know that eating the right foods and taking certain supplements could help to boost how you feel? Saffron has been shown to improve mood, or you could try a fresh tomato salad – packed with serotonin which is crucial for feeling balanced and happy.
Dr Donnai also recommends taking ashwagandha to bring balance. You'll find ashwagandha in our Relax and Unwind patch, alongside magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B, all clinically proven to bring calm and smooth out your mood and mindset.
7: Bonus tip for reducing your risk of Alzheimer's disease – floss your teeth!
Inflammation is one of the biggest risk factors for Alzheimer's Disease and one of the most common causes of inflammation is gum disease. You’ve got a 13 percent risk of Alzheimer’s if you don’t floss your teeth, so get busy with that satin tape!