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7 Surprising Things That Up Your Alzheimer’s Risk

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This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.

Aging may be inevitable, but memory loss is avoidable — so long as you put your health first and know the hidden things that could be unknowingly increasing your risk.

All it takes are a few simple lifestyle adjustments to help save your brain from the troubles of aging. So let’s look at seven surprising things could be upping your risk for Alzheimer’s.

“Popcorn Butter”

Hold the butter! Next time you head to the movies, opt for un-buttered popcorn. That’s right — artificial butter flavoring has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology have found that the chemical diacetyl (DA), which is used to provide the appearance and flavor of butter in processed foods, actually augments the effects of an abnormal brain protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Being Negative Increases Alzheimer’s Risk

A “glass half empty” attitude comes with a side of dangerous consequences for your overall health as well. A team of researchers found that negativity hurts the brain (both emotionally and physically). The results of the comprehensive study revealed that patients with asymptomatic Alzheimer’s disease (ASYMAD), or those who have all the physical characteristics that could lead to Alzheimer’s but have managed to avoid it, scored lower on personality questionnaires on negative traits, compared with controls and those who actually developed the disease.

Stress also takes its toll — chronic stress has been found to severely impact many brain functions. In fact, stress increases your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. So turn that frown upside down and make sure you take some well-deserved time to kick back and relax!

Sleeping on Your Back or Stomach (or Sleeping Poorly)

You probably don’t give your sleeping position much thought, but one study has found that sleeping on your side can help to clear your brain of the metabolic waste that accumulates throughout the day. And speaking of sleep, a lack of restful sleep at night has been linked to an earlier onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Sugar (Including Blood Sugar Fluctuations and Imbalances)

You may want to skip dessert tonight — research has found a correlation between elevated blood sugar levels and an increased risk of brain damage. In fact, the insulin abnormalities seen in conjunction with Alzheimer’s have been referred to as “type 3 diabetes.” A diet high in sugar is linked to insulin resistance and elevated glucose levels with increased risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. In order to help minimize your risk, opt for foods low in refined sugar and carbohydrates.

Being Low in Vitamin B12

A shocking study looking at brain tissue at autopsy revealed that half of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia were actually misdiagnosed for a form that typically would’ve been treatable. An example of such could simply be a B12 deficiency, since low levels of B12 is a common cause of mental confusion in adults over age 60. It’s critical to boost your levels of B12 now to help prevent your brain from shrinking later on.

See also: 6 Surprising Things Linked to Increased Heart Failure Risk

Some Common Over-the-Counter Medications

You may want to go double-check what’s living in your medicine cabinet — some popular over-the-counter drugs can increase your risk for Alzheimer’s. Everything from allergy medications to sleep aids to anti-anxiety drugs can shrink your brain, thereby boosting your risk.

Certain Dietary Fats Spike Your Alzheimer’s Risk

Findings published in JAMA Neurology have unveiled that a diet high in saturated fat can quickly rob the brain of a crucial chemical that helps ward off Alzheimer’s disease. So it’s important to cut back on sugar and foods high in saturated fat. So what fats can you eat? Sources of healthy fats include avocados, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, coconut oil and raw nuts.

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