Beware of this strange sign your brain is shrinking

Every time you lose your keys or forget someone’s name, you probably get a sinking feeling in your stomach. Could this be a sign your mind is on its way out?

Alzheimer’s is a very real concern as you get older, after all. Your risk skyrockets once you pass the 50 year mark. And who in their right mind isn’t scared of that?

But these occasional memory slips are normal and usually nothing to worry about. There is, however, another warning sign you should watch out for if you’re worried about getting dementia….

Excessive daytime sleepiness.

If you find yourself, yawning and searching for the nearest couch all day, every day, it might be a sign that you’re heading toward a dementia diagnosis down the road.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic discovered that healthy, normal adults who were abnormally sleepy and fatigued during the day, scored lower on cognitive tests and had more brain shrinkage than the average energetic Joe of the same age. And their brain shrinkage was especially noticeable in the areas of the brain associated with Alzheimer’s, aging and disease.

“Our results may help to identify individuals at higher susceptibility or risk for dementia prior to symptom onset so that appropriate interventions can be undertaken early to prevent progression to dementia,” said lead author, Diego Z. Carvalho, MD, a resident physician of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

So if you’re extra sleepy and worried it’s a warning sign of a shrinking brain, it’s time to think about prevention. There are a lot of scientifically proven ways to prevent dementia, including some really simple ones you can try right now, like…

  • Eating fish at least once a week (especially salmon).
  • Exercising daily — even if it’s just a power walk.
  • Getting out in the sun (or at least taking a vitamin D supplement) because low vitamin D levels increase your risk of Alzheimer’s by a whopping 69 percent.
  • Avoiding brain-shrinking medications, especially anticholinergic drugs like over-the-counter cold, allergy and sleeping medications.
  • Taking B-vitamins — they can reduce your brain shrinkage by up to 90 percent!
  • Trying a Mediterranean diet… it lowers your Alzheimer’s risk by over 50 percent.
  • Staying social… frequent socialization decreases your dementia risk by at least 26 percent.

Making a few of these simple changes will definitely affect your brain health for the better. It might also get rid of your pesky daytime drowsiness too.

Editor’s note: Memory problems don’t have to be a normal part of aging. You can keep a sharp mind well into your 80s and 90s if, for starters, you eat more of these 14 brain-fueling superfoods and avoid the six memory-killing foods you’ll discover in Nature’s Secrets for an Active, Healthy Mind—At Any Age! Click here to get it for only $9.95 today!

Sources:
  1. “Sleepiness and fatigue linked to brain atrophy in cognitively normal elderly.” The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. EurekaAlert! http://www.eurekalert.org. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  2. “Diseases and Conditions: Dementia.” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  3. J. Littlejohns, W.E. Henley, I.A. Lang, C.Annweiler, O.Beauchet, P.H.m. Chaves, L. Fried, et al. “Vitamin D and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease.” Neurology, August 2014.
  4. “Prevention and Risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.” The Alzheimer’s Association. http://www.alz.org. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  5. “Friends Make You Smart.” AARP. http://www.aarp.org. Retrieved June 15, 2016.

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.