As promised in my last column, here are the daily practices that I have used to reverse early Alzheimer’s. I continue to practice these action steps to keep the Alzheimer’s gene I inherited in the “off” position.
To make them into habits, start with just two of these practices five days a week for three weeks. Then add two more for another three weeks and continue adding two every three weeks until you are practicing all the ones you feel are right for you. Use sticky notes as reminders.
1. Cut way down on sugar. Some scientists are calling Alzheimer’s “diabetes type 3.” Aim to limit sugar to 15 to 20 grams a day. Read the labels of everything for the sugar content. Too much sugar screws up the brain and suppresses the immune system, among many other ghastly things. I don’t count the sugar in fresh fruit.
2. Dry brush your skin. This not only removes dead skin cells; more importantly, it reduces stress (which also screws up the brain) and helps your lymphatic filtration system release toxins. Get a good body brush with natural bristles – one with a long handle because you’ll probably be doing this yourself (a lover might get distracted). Always brush toward your heart.
3. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water and change your diet. Eat more veggies and non-farmed fish. Cut down on simple carbs, like white bread, white rice, white pasta, potatoes and desserts.
4. Observe your thoughts. When your mind chews on something over and over, it can actually change the structure of your brain. The best time to practice is when you’re brushing your teeth since you don’t need your conscious mind to brush your teeth – it’s all muscle memory. Write on a sticky note: “What am I thinking right now?” and put it by your sink.
5. Release toxic emotions. Negative thoughts and emotions can get stuck in your physical cellular energy system and prevent you from experiencing joy. Learn to release these blocks to good mental health with this technique: Feel the negative emotion as strongly as you can, then drop the story. When the story creeps back in, feel the emotion as strongly as you can, then drop the story. Continue until you can actually feel the release of the negative charge. Skip this one on days that you’re feeling happy.
6. Write an affirmation seven times. Compose a short, positive statement like, “My mind is clear and sharp.” Write it four times with your dominant hand, twice with your non-dominant hand and once more with your dominant hand. Before you go to sleep, review what you’re grateful for.
7. Do the Tibetan rites of rejuvenation. These miraculous, ancient physical movements are highly effective for rejuvenating your brain and your body. Go to my website, ellenwoodspeaks.com, and click on the third video to see how to perform these rites. Skip this one if it’s too difficult.
8. Get your body moving. Practice quick-burst, high-intensity exercises called “interval training exercises” to pump up your heart and brain. Or take a brisk walk. Or a slow walk if that’s all you can manage.
9. Exercise your brain. Yes, you can train your brain at any age! Scientific studies on neuroplasticity show that the brain is capable of creating new neuronal pathways no matter how old you are. Memorize, memorize, memorize. Do arithmetic in your head. Learn a new language. Duolingo.com’s bite-sized language lessons are fun, easy and 100 percent free.
10. Take supplements. For more than 10 years, I’ve been taking a number of over-the-counter supplements for my brain and I am convinced that they are a very important part of my program. Consult your health care practitioner about starting a supplement regimen for your brain.
11. Meditate. Regular meditation transforms you from the inside out and lets you access your deepest inner reserves for healing and living joyfully. Studies show that meditation can reverse memory loss. Even five minutes a day of turning off your brain can have a profound effect.
12. Do something good for someone, including yourself. Even little things count. Make a quick phone call or send an email to cheer someone up. Or do something good for yourself (others will also benefit when you’re happy). Whether it’s painting or roller-skating or a bubble bath, make sure to fit joy and play into your life every day.
Wood, of Questa, is a humorous inspirational speaker and award-winning author of “Think and Grow Young: Powerful Steps to Create a Life of Joy.” Her forthcoming book, part memoir/part self-help, is “Blues Busters! 7 Mind/Body/Spirit Habits That Transformed My Life.” Wood’s website is ellenwoodspeaks.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.