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Lifestyle Habits

by Monica Stefan about a month ago in health
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Mitigating Neurodegenerative Disorder Risks

Lifestyle Habits
Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Whatever we do, we cannot stop aging with our current capabilities. Our genes program aging. However, we can significantly lower the risks of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s by leveraging healthy lifestyle habits. The earlier we start, the better.

Apart from various dementia types like Alzheimer’s, there are also common neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, Korsakoff’s Syndrome, and Motor Neuron Diseases such as ALS. However, they are not as across-the-board as dementia. They mainly affect memory.

The risks for neurodegenerative disorders substantially increase as we get older. Thus, developing the habits in younger years can pay the dividend in older ages.

Millions of people suffer from the effects of neurodegenerative diseases, especially dementia. For example, as of 2021:

“An estimated 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s dementia today. This number could grow to 13.8 million by 2060, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow, or cure Alzheimer’s.” Source

With a strong interest in metabolic and mental health, dealing with neurodegenerative diseases with lifestyle habits is close to my heart.

I firmly believe that our metabolic health significantly influences our neurological and mental health.

For example, people living with type II diabetes have a higher chance of transitioning to Alzheimer’s as their conditions intensify. Therefore, researchers in the field characterize Alzheimer’s disease as type III diabetes.

Suffering from metabolic syndrome at the onset of diabetes in my younger years, I observe patterns of neurodegenerative conditions daily and review the literature passionately.

My goal is to understand risks and lower them using healthy lifestyle habits.

We cannot do much about our genes at this stage, yet we can make significant progress with lifestyle changes that might manifest as epigenetic effects.

Based on my experience, observations, and reviews in the field, I present three broad patterns that can be turned into lifestyle habits.

1. Meet Fundamentals

In terms of prevention methods, nothing can be more important than the fundamental needs like quality nutrition, restorative sleep, personalized workouts, adequate rest, social connections, and overall stress reduction with fun activities.

These lifestyle habits can significantly impact our metabolic and mental health. Nutrition, sleep, movement, rest, fun, and meaningful social connections are non-negotiable to improve health and fitness.

We can add these items to our lifestyle habit toolbox. For example, I created a mental health first aid kit concept as a checklist.

Dieticians or nutritionists can create customized diets for people with the risk of neurodegenerative disorders.

One of the typical diets to improve brain function is a traditional ketogenic diet aiming to provide alternative energy (β-Hydroxybutyrate) to the brain when it struggles to use glucose as an energy source.

We also need to focus on social connections as essential for mental health. Our limbic system (emotional part) is an open system craving intimacy.

Our genes also mandate connections manifesting as hormonal fluctuations.

2. Defeat Intruders

Studies in neuroscience and other medical fields indicate that chronic stress, especially emotional stress, is one of the root causes of neurodegenerative disorders.

An elevated cortisol level is an indication of chronic stress. Thus, it is crucial to get checked and diagnosed if we have chronic stress symptoms and request an improvement plan from qualified healthcare professionals such as endocrinologists.

Psychologists inform that suppressed emotions accumulate and interrupt the energy flow and balance.

Emotional stress might be caused by living with excessive and destructive emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, grief, or boredom.

Other well-known intruders to brain health are chronic inflammation, toxins, pathogens, heavy metals, excessive alcohol, and tobacco smoking.

Therefore, it is wise to give up disserving habits and replace them with better ones.

In addition, improving the defense system, especially the immune system, allows the body to self-heal with natural processes like autophagy which can remove some intruders.

Visceral fat holds significant toxins, so reducing belly fat can be invaluable.

Increasing glutathione (master antioxidant of the body) naturally can improve the defense system and protect the body from intruders. I explained it in an article titled Three Tips to Maintain Healthy Glutathione Levels Naturally.

We may also consider supplementing various nutrients and cleansing molecules such as activated charcoal to remove heavy metals from the gut.

3 .Create Cognitive Reserves

The previous two points cover the fundamentals of maintaining a healthy body and brain, aiming to prevent cognitive decline.

However, as we get older, it is inevitable to stop cognitive decline entirely. It will happen to all of us at some stage. Even though our chance of getting dementia increases as we age, it is believed that dementia is not just an aging disease.

More than aging, studies indicate medical conditions and damaging lifestyle habits such as inadequate nutrition, sedentary life, toxins, chronic stress, chronic inflammation, and genetics are the major contributors to dementia.

Cognitive reserve is a concept. It is a notion that suggests improving various brain regions when we are younger so that those regions can serve us better when we get older. The more neural connections the brain can create, the more functional it can get.

Reading, writing, problem-solving, singing, playing musical instruments, dancing, self-talk, laughter yoga, learning a new language, high-intensity training, and mindfulness practices can significantly boost cognitive reserves.

I introduced the use of everyday activities as mental boosters to maintain our cognitive reserves. Working in a flow state can help increase cognitive reserves.

We need to be careful not to burn out, as I explained in this article titled Three Practical Approaches to Prevent Burnouts in Life.

In addition, improving our cognitive flexibility and regulating our emotions might contribute to mounting cognitive reserves.

I provided five tips to improve cognitive flexibility and emotional regulations in an article titled Five Habits to Increase Cognitive Flexibility and Emotional Maturity.

Conclusions

Neurological disorders are debilitating health conditions affecting both patients and their loved ones.

Some common mental health disorders, such as various types of dementia, cause severe suffering and impact our economy’s rising healthcare costs.

Even though we cannot control aging and age-related cognitive decline, we might delay the occurrence with preventative measures, mainly using healthy lifestyle habits.

Getting timely advice and support from medical professionals is essential.

There are promising treatments for some neurological and mental health disorders. However, there is still no cure for dementia. Interestingly, scientists have developed some promising medications.

The current approach is to treat the causes of dementia, such as nutritional deficiencies and biological defects caused by medication or unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Timely treatments might reduce risks for some patients.

Based on feedback from my regular readers, I’d like to offer a few takeaway points that you might consider discussing with your qualified healthcare professionals.

Of course, you might discard them if some points are irrelevant to your situation.

  • Consider a customized diet aiming to consume nutrient-dense foods.
  • Move the body regularly and consider a personalized workout regimen.
  • Aim to get adequate and restorative sleep daily.
  • Express emotions, and consider psychotherapy to prevent chronic stress.
  • Get medical help to reduce chronic inflammation.
  • Consider time-restricted eating to give the brain alternative energy.
  • Refrain from smoking, harmful drugs, and excessive alcohol use.
  • Eliminate toxins and pathogens. Find ways to initiate autophagy naturally.
  • Create cognitive reserves with daily chores, reading, writing, singing, dancing, self-talk, and learning to play musical instruments or a new language.

  • Working in a flow state can also help increase cognitive reserves.
  • And always remember to smile and laugh to lubricate neurocircuits.

Thank you for reading my perspectives. I wish you a healthy and happy life.

health

About the author

Monica Stefan

Romania |22| Art lover

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