“The idea that Alzheimer’s is entirely genetic and unpreventable is perhaps the greatest misconception about the disease,” says Gary Small, M.D., director of the UCLA Center on Aging.

Mountains of research reveals that simple things you do every day might cut the odds of losing your mind to Alzheimer’s. Last year Jean Carper used these results to write the book “100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s and Age-Related Memory Loss“. These are some of the most surprising strategies:

  1. Have coffee. A large European study showed that drinking three to five cups of coffee a day in midlife cut the risk of Alzheimer’s by 65% in late life.

  2. Floss. Oddly, the health of your teeth and gums can help predict dementia. University of Southern California research found that having periodontal disease before the age of 35 quadrupled the odds of dementia years later.

  3. Google. Doing an online search can stimulate your aging brain even more than reading a book, says UCLA’s Gary Small, who used brain MRIs to prove it. The biggest surprise: novice internet surfers, aged 55 to 78, activated key memory and learning centres in the brain after only a week of web surfing for an hour a day.

  4. Grow new brain cells. Impossible, scientists used to say. Now it’s believed that thousands of brain cells are born daily. The trick is to keep the newborns alive. What works: aerobic exercise (such as a brisk 30-minute walk every day), strenuous mental activity, eating salmon and other fatty fish, avoiding obesity, chronic stress, sleep deprivation, heavy drinking and vitamin B deficiency.

  5. Drink apple juice. Apple juice can push production of the “memory chemical” acetylcholine; that’s the way the popular Alzheimer’s drug Aricept works, says Thomas Shea, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts.

  6. Meditate. Brain scans show that people who meditate regularly have less cognitive decline and brain shrinkage – a classic sign of Alzheimer’s – as they age. Andrew Newberg of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine says yoga meditation for 12 minutes a day for two months improves blood flow and cognitive functioning in seniors with memory problems.

  7. Improve language skills: a teenage girl who is a superior writer is eight times more likely to escape Alzheimer’s in late life than a teen with poor linguistic skills. Teaching young children to be fluent in two or more languages makes them less vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.

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