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6 Ways Seniors Can Stave Off Lou Gehrig’s Disease

By Nancy Delwaide, 9:00 am on

The ALS Society of Canada reports roughly 3,000 Canadians are currently living with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Every day, up to two people lose their lives to the illness. Although the causes behind ALS aren’t entirely clear, there are ways to reduce the risk of this disease. Lou Gehrig’s disease is the colloquial term for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and it is named after the famous New York Yankees baseball player who was diagnosed in 1939. 

ALS damages nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that activate muscles. As the disease progresses, motor neurons start to degenerate and lose the ability to transmit electrical impulses. Eventually the neurons stop working, leaving the individual immobilized and susceptible to cognitive decline such as dementia. ALS onset is typically between the ages of 40 and 70. 

In 5 to 10 percent of cases, ALS is inherited. Other possible causes of this disease include genetic mutation and abnormal immune responses. Imbalance of a brain chemical called glutamate can also lead to ALS.

Early symptoms of ALS include muscle weakness, which can cause frequent tripping, falling, dropping objects, muscle twitching, cramping, and difficulty speaking. Over time, it becomes difficult to chew, swallow, and breathe.

Currently, ALS isn’t curable. Medications can slow the disease’s progression, and physical therapy can help seniors with impaired mobility and breathing. If your elderly loved one needs help maintaining a high quality of life while aging in place, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a trusted provider of Oakville senior care. Services our caregivers provide include transportation to and from medical appointments and social events, nutritious meal preparation, assistance with daily exercise, and help with everyday tasks like bathing, grooming, and light housekeeping.  

Here are six measures your loved one can take to prevent Lou Gehrig’s disease.

1. Eat Brightly Colored Vegetables and Fruits

Yellow, orange, red, and green fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, which act as antioxidants. Carotenoids curb cellular damage caused by free radicals, which are molecules rendered unstable due to pollution, infection, radiation, toxic chemicals, poor digestion, and stress. To restore balance, free radical molecules steal electrons from other cells and lead to injuries. 

Antioxidants re-establish molecular stability by donating their electrons to free radicals. Carotenoids also provide vitamins C and E to the body.

To reduce their ALS risk, seniors can add carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, kale, and broccoli to their diets. Berries are also rich in antioxidants, and they should be consumed each day.

2. Ingest Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

These healthy fats reduce inflammation and free radical production. Avocados, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, eggs, olive oil, soybeans, and walnuts are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and your loved one should have at least one serving of these foods daily.

3. Minimize Stress

Feeling tensed can burden the nervous system. Worry and anxiety disrupt antioxidant levels in the brain. Stress can also make the immune system attack the body. Here are a few stress relieving strategies your loved one can adopt:

  • Write down fears and discuss solutions with a trusted person
  • Read inspiring biographies or accounts of courage and resilience
  • Engage in a fun activity daily that triggers laughter
  • Spend time with a pet or child

Socialization can also help seniors reduce stress. For families living in Oakville, ON, respite care can be a wonderful solution when their aging loved ones need companionship and socialization a few hours a week or just need minor assistance with daily household tasks. At Home Care Assistance, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home.

4. Increase Dietary Glutathione

Glutathione is another antioxidant that protects motor neurons from free radical damage. It strengthens immunity and aids the liver in ridding the body of toxic chemicals. 

Seniors with poor diets may have low levels of glutathione, which puts them at risk of developing ALS. Glutathione is also depleted by infections, pollution, radiation, stress, and toxins. Other substances that reduce glutathione are artificial sweeteners, genetically modified foods, and antibiotic overuse.

Glutathione contains sulfur, which neutralizes free radicals. To increase sulfur intake, your loved one can eat bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and onions.

Another way to increase glutathione is to drink smoothies made with bioactive, non-denatured whey. This form of whey retains its normal protein structure and contains the amino acids needed to synthesize glutathione. 

5. Reduce Exposure to Environmental Toxins and Inflammatory Foods

In 2016, contact with pesticides was associated with an increased risk of ALS. Other sources of environmental toxins include tobacco smoke, heavy metals, and air pollution. BMAA is a neurotoxin found in mussels, oysters, and crabs. Other dietary sources of inflammation include preservatives, processed sugar, artificial sweeteners, and hydrogenated oils.

6. Exercise Regularly

Aerobic exercise boosts glutathione levels and reduces stress. Your loved one should engage in moderate physical activity for at least 10 minutes daily, preferably outside.

To stay motivated, your loved one should choose a fun form of exercise such as gardening, swimming, yoga, tai chi, and walking. Other activities that count as exercise are:

  • Housecleaning to the beat of music
  • Packing and carrying groceries
  • Climbing stairs

Recovering from a stroke, managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and a variety of other health-related situations can make it difficult for a senior to continue living at home without someone there to help. Oakville, Ontario, live-in care professionals are trained to help seniors who need 24/7 assistance. With the help of a live-in caregiver, your elderly loved one can maintain a higher quality of life while aging in place. If your loved one is living with a serious health condition and needs assistance with daily tasks, call Home Care Assistance at (905) 337-1200 today.

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