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Posted on 04-16-2018

How to Prevent Your Brain from Shrinking         Article of the week April 16 to 20, 2018

A good friend of mine from high school recently had to go through the process of putting his mother into a nursing home because of complications related to Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is the #1 cause of dementia, an umbrella term that refers to a range of symptoms including impaired thinking and memory.  It is characterized by shrinkage of the hippocampus (the memory portion of the brain) and death of neurons, the cells that connect various parts of the brain to each other and to the rest of the body.  My friend's mother had a family history of this condition, with her mother and her sister both having acquired the same condition.

This would lead most people to believe that Alzheimer's disease is a genetic disorder.  A lot of observers would say that Alzheimer's ran in her family and that there was nothing that she could have done to prevent it. Maybe this story resonates with you.  Maybe you have others in your family that have dealt with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, and maybe this is causing you anxiety as you ponder your health future and what it holds.

In this article of the week I want to empower those of you with a family history of Alzheimer's or dementia, or those of you who otherwise want to know what you can do to reduce your risk.  In March 2018 there was a research article published in the journal Neurology, that was conducted at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and followed 1,462 women over a 44 year period.  To see the abstract you can go to this link:  http://n.neurology.org/content/early/2018/03/14/WNL.0000000000005290

What the study found was that the women with the highest cardiovascular fitness had an 88 percent lower risk of dementia compared to those that were moderately fit.  Those that had the lowest cardiovascular fitness had a 41 percent greater risk of dementia compared to those with moderate fitness levels.  The women's fitness was tested through a simple cycling test.  What you need to understand from this study is that cardiovascular fitness is a measure of how well your heart is pumping and distributing blood throughout your body.  If your cardiovascular fitness is high, your heart will beat with more strength and distribute blood to the small blood vessels that are most distant from the heart.  This includes the small blood vessels in your brain which receive more blood and oxygen from a stronger cardiovascular system.

Now I want to be clear that you do not have to be a runner or endurance athlete to reap the benefits of a highly functioning cardiovascular system.  You simply have to do things that make your heart rate and rate of breathing increase regularly.  For most, the easiest answer is simply walking briskly (at a pace slightly above your comfort level) for 30-60 minutes, at least 3-4 days per week.  You can also do aqua-fit at the YMCA, cycle or even walk up and down the stairs in your home multiple times throughout the day to increase your heart rate.

There are different ways to lower your risk of Alzheimer's and dementia but this by far is the easiest and most effective.  Don't think about exercise, just think about movement.  Make a point of interrupting your sedentary behaviours and moving regularly and intentionally throughout the day.  This will help you maintain your membership in the big-brain club!

Yours in Health,

Dr. Tim

Grace Chiropractic – 1-3230 Monarch Drive – 705-323-9100 – http://gracechiropractic.ca

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