How to keep dementia at bay

* I have a family history of dementia and would like to know if I can prevent this happening to me. I am female, aged 45, and in good health.

>>One of the best ways to keep dementia at bay is to eat a simple diet, rich in colourful produce, soluble and insoluble fibre, and to drink plenty of pure water, daily. Keep processed foods, sugar, fried foods, and alcohol to a minimum, and eat oily fish at least three times a week.

Daily exercise is also important, and it needn’t be a strenuous gym workout — a 30-minute brisk walk can work wonders. This maximises your defences for brain health, and it keeps your blood pressure in check — which is key in the prevention of dementia.

Dr Michael Valenzuela, of the University of NSW’s Regenerative Neuroscience Group (author of Maintain Your Brain), says “the number-one thing a person can do to prevent dementia is to have their blood pressure checked regularly and, if it is high, take measures to bring it under control”.

Since you are in your mid-40s, check your blood pressure annually to prevent irreparable damage to the vessels in your brain.

Exercising your brain is important, too — crosswords, Sudoku, logic puzzles, and the like, are excellent. I am also a big fan of the brain-training website, www.lumosity.com, which I use daily to keep the neurons firing.

Environmental toxicity (including pollution, household chemicals, and mercury amalgams) is implicated in neurological degeneration. So, as well as eating fresh, local, organic or spray-free foods, you should also avoid exposure to chemicals, where possible.

There is a direct link between lack of minerals and oxygen to the brain and dementia-related illnesses.

Oxygenating herbs, such as gotu kola, black walnut, blessed thistle, and damiana can also help along with a healthy diet. Gotu kola, in particular, attaches to manufactured aluminium (implicated in Alzheimer’s), and helps to remove it from the body.

> My 18-month-old daughter has reflux. She is on Ranitidine and Domperidone, which don’t seem to be helping. Is there an alternative?

>>While gastric reflux is a common in children under a year old, a small number, like your daughter, have reflux into the toddler years. Reflux can be stressful for children and their parents.

Reflux can impact on sleeping and eating habits, cause chronic hiccups or coughs, and trigger stomachaches and/or nasal congestion. Children with gastric reflux are more irritable, since they are out-of-sorts, tired, and uncomfortable.

Consider chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation to address the alignment and nerve issues. While chiropractic and osteopathy are different, they address similar issues.

There is a valve at the top of the stomach (the lower oesophageal sphincter), which is controlled by the vagus nerve. Because the vagus nerve sits close to the cervical vertebrae, even a slight shift in the vertebrae can cause reflux, leading to an incomplete closure of the valve, allowing the stomach contents to be easily regurgitated.

It is common for the vertebrae to shift out of place during labour and the birth of a baby, which can result in pressure on the vagus nerve.

Visit www.chiropractic.ie or www.osteopathy.ie to find a practitioner. Ask if they have experience in treating young children.


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