Forty-four million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s, 5.5 million of them live in the United States. Of these numbers, most are over age 65, according to the Alzheimer’s News Today.
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis brings emotion and stress for the patient and the caregiver. It is difficult to watch a loved one’s mind deteriorate. Once there is a diagnosis there is no cure, only treatment, and the lifespan of the disease can be from 3-12 years in most cases.
Alzheimer’s is preventable
According to a University of Cambridge study and a BBC News report 1 in 3 cases is preventable. Factors topping the prevention list are diet, exercise, and education. Notice there is no suggestion that all cases are preventable. If we can reduce the factors we can reduce the numbers of those who have the disease.
We used to think aluminum from pots and pans and drinking soda was a conduit for the disease. I remember being newly married and spending an exorbitant amount of money on our first set of pots and pans due to this myth. Pots and pans and the use of aluminum foil while cooking is probably not enough to cause the disease.
In Alzheimer’s patients, parts of the brain contain 2 to 3 times more aluminum than average people. Aluminum is found in the Earth, so it is also in our food. Aluminum comes from many sources too:
- Processed foods
- Cosmetics and deodorants/antiperspirants
- Medication-to lessen or intensify effects
- Air, pesticides
For more than 40 years, researchers have been studying aluminum as substance linking to Alzheimer’s and dementia. The truth is studies conflict and some cases show aluminum in the brain and others do not. Genetics may or may not also predispose a person to the disease. These factors are also under investigation.
Research shows the type of diet we eat affects our health. The Mediterranean and the MIND diets are noted to reduce chronic diseases like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Experts think eating diets like these that focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish, and are low in sugar and fat will also reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Regardless of age, it is never too late to begin exercising as part of a healthy regime. Many Alzheimer’s patients are low in physical activity. Brain stimulation increases the ability to maintain old network connections and foster new connections essential to cognitive health and can better plan and organize tasks.
Exercise your brain
Research is leaning toward using mental capabilities on a regular basis helps Alzheimer’s patients, although this is not conclusive. Various activities will help keep the mind sharp. Reading a book, doing a crossword puzzle, word search or sudoku puzzle can help. Keeping a mind active will help prevent cognitive decline.
Social media is under attack for stealing our time and our health, but is this an area where social media can actually be helpful? It’s food for thought. An older person who is physically inactive may receive social benefit and brain stimulation by being online.
No one size fits all cure
We know the main factors and that they are often linked. And, Alzheimer’s is under ongoing investigation. If you’ve watched an Alzheimer’s patient slowly lose mental capabilities it’s a slow painful process. It is possible that we can reduce the onset with these simple steps.
Professor Carol Brayne, from the Institute of Public Health at the University of Cambridge, said:
“Although there is no single way to treat dementia, we may be able to take steps to reduce our risk of developing dementia at older ages”.
What’s your best medicine for preventing Alzheimer’s? Share in the comments.