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Program may ward off Alzheimer's disease

July 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
One local neurologist says your brain works like an interest-bearing account. The more you invest in it now, the more brain power you'll have when you get older. So how do you get started?When Dr. Marshall Welles was born, ballpoint pens, traffic lights and washing machines did not exist.

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"The first television I ever saw was at the World's Fair in the 1930s," said Dr. Welles.

He's seen two world wars, the Great Depression and the invention of stainless steel. And he's coming up on a big birthday: 101.

He was around when the first cars rolled out in America and today he's still on the road.

"I'm still driving my car," said Dr. Welles. "I drove my car here."

How does he stay so sharp and active? His neurologist, Dr. Vince Fortanasce, says it's a four-pronged plan that involves diet, exercise, accentuating the brain's reserves, and rest and relaxation. He calls it the "DEAR" Program, an anti-Alzheimer's prescription.

"Thirty percent of people we feel have a genetic predisposition, seven percent do not," said Dr. Vincent Fortanasce. "Seventy percent of the people should never have Alzheimer's disease."

Dr. Fortanasce came up with this lifestyle plan when he noticed many of his memory loss patients were either lawyers, police officers or physicians.

All three of them had in common sleeplessness and uncontrolled stress and dietary indiscretions.

He says too many carbohydrates lead to more insulin and that plays a role in the onset of Alzheimer's.

To regulate blood sugar, Dr. Fortanasce says turn the food pyramid upside down: more protein, less pasta.

While walking and running are good for circulation, he says strength training and isometric exercises build muscle and brain.

"It actually builds the cells in that area where memory lies," said Dr. Fortanasce. "So it's very specific for building memory just where we're losing it."

Accentuate your brain's reserves by building more connections between brain cells.

Dr. Fortanasce suggests things like sketching people's faces or closing your eyes to try to identify ingredients in food and remembering things on your own.

"Everything is in our cell phone. Nothing is here," said Dr. Fortanasce.

And rest and de-stress every night.

"Turn off the TV, listen to music, pray and meditate and you will sleep and you will decrease your stress," said Dr. Fortanasce.

Dr. Welles says today's fast-paced generation should go after relaxation like they go after anything else in life.

"You have to do it. You have to take time for it," said Dr. Welles.

 

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