8 Tips for Easing Stress and the Risk of Alzheimer's

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Stress hormones are believed to hasten the formation of protein-beta amyloid and tau seen in brains with Alzheimer’s disease. A 2006 study found that rats injected with a substance similar to the human body’s stress hormones had a 60 percent increase in protein beta-amyloid in their brains within a seven-day period. Researchers have also found that oxidative stress is involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. This type of stress is caused by the production of free radicals-– electronically unstable atoms or molecules.

Watch your diet

A healthy diet can help neutralize oxidative stress. Key components of this type of diet are antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and phytonutrients that halt the chemical reactions that are a result of oxidation.  Good sources include watermelon, tomatoes, blueberries, carrots, leafy greens, green tea and red wine.

Focus on your breathing

Try using alternate nostril breathing for 15 minutes. Researchers have found that this technique can significantly increase activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, which is sometimes called the rest and digest system. Doing this breathing technique daily over a four-week period led to lower pulse and respiratory rates and lower diastolic blood pressure.

Get moving

Aerobic exercise can both exhilarate and relax you and also can help you deal with stress. Exercise lowers the amount of stress hormones in the body while also stimulating endorphins, which can help boost your mood.

No really -- get moving!

Autoregulation exercises that involve deep breathing or muscle relaxation also may be beneficial. Autoregulation training is a method that ensures you are using the maximum weight for a particular repetition.  Use weights based on how much you can lift on a specific date and then use this weight as the starting point for the next workout.

Get a massage

Research has found that massage can lower heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, oxygen consumption and salivary cortisol levels. Massage also can cause significant changes in your emotional state.

Reach out to others

Researchers have found that lonely people have a 21 percent higher level of cortisol levels--an indicator of chronic stress--than people who have a strong social network.

Try mindfulness meditation

This practice involves sitting comfortably while focusing on your breathing. Focus your attention on the present without worrying about issues from the past or concerns about the future. Researchers have found that mindfulness medication can ease anxiety, pain and depression.

Eliminate poor food choices

Some food and drinks actually can increase your stress levels due to their composition. These foods and beverages include fast food, tea, coffee, cocoa, energy drinks, butter, cheese, meat, shellfish, sugar, alcohol, soft drinks, chocolate drinks, almonds, macadamia nuts and coconut oil. So use moderation when consuming any of the above.