The 4 Pillars of Alzheimer's Prevention
Pillar 2: Stress Management
The human brain is an amazing instrument. If you need proof, consider the fact that no computer can come close to duplicating your brain's superior abilities. Your brain can literally process millions of data in just hundredths of a second. However, just like a computer, your brain requires regular care and attention to operate at its peak efficiency. Especially as you enter your forties, fifties, and beyond, taking care of your brain becomes even more important.
Contrary to what's been previously thought, building a better memory, preventing memory loss, and impacting Alzheimer's disease are not just dependent upon your genes - your lifestyle has a huge impact as well. Take a look at what you can do to affect your brain's overall health.
The Negative Effects of Stress
Did you know you are at increased risk of memory problems and even Alzheimer's disease if you are prone to psychological distress? New research is being released every day that demonstrates this sad reality is true.
Doctors and health officials are quickly realizing that daily stress, especially when it is chronic and not alleviated, takes a huge toll on our collective health. And, if you don't think stress levels in the U.S. are higher than ever, take a look at the number of tranquilizers, antidepressants, high blood pressure medicines, and antacids being taken today. All of these medications are used for illnesses made worse by stress - and they are the best-selling drugs in Western countries. Need I say more?
When you are stressed, chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol flood your body. These chemicals cause your heart to beat faster, and also cause that "stimulated" feeling you experience under stressful conditions.
Cortisol, in excess, damages the cells in the memory center of your brain. It stops glucose from entering your brain cells. It blocks your neurotransmitter function and causes brain cells to become injured. High levels of cortisol also impact your ability to learn and retain new information (this is called short-term memory loss). As stress and cortisol levels increase, so does your chance of developing memory loss.
What's worse is that, as you age or if you develop an illness, you naturally have a decreased ability to handle stress and lower your blood cortisol levels. This can ultimately lead to the death of your brain cells - a situation that can affect all areas of your memory, as well as overall brain health.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could find some way to stop and even reverse the negative effects of stress? What if, for the same level of demand, you were actually able to increase your performance?
The Healing Power of Stress Relaxation and Meditation
Meditation reduces stress, which lowers cortisol and improves many other aspects of your mental function. Of course, stress management has many other positive benefits as well, such as improved performance, heart function, reduced anxiety, less chronic pain, and even increased longevity.
Balancing your daily stress is a vital part of any Alzheimer's prevention strategy. Studies have shown there is a high correlation between having high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and/or high cortisol and the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Stress has been shown to be a key factor in all of these conditions.
Thankfully, research has shown that the benefits of regular stress-relaxation practice, such as meditation, can improve your health. And, as it reduces some of the negative impacts of cholesterol, cortisol, and high blood pressure, a stress relaxation practice also has the added benefits of improving your focus, attention, and optimizing your overall mental performance.
Some examples of stress-management techniques include:
- Guided Imagery and Visualization
- Deep Breathing
Trust me - it is not necessary to lock yourself into any of one of these stress relaxation techniques. Rather, it's best to feel free to explore any or all of them to see which technique works best for you. Simply start with any of these techniques for a few minutes a day and you'll quickly begin to experience better brain function. Then, find the technique(s) you tend to enjoy the very most and you'll begin experiencing a whole new and improved - and less stressed - you!