Today, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and about one third of adults over the age of 85 have it1. Chances are that Alzheimer’s disease has impacted your life or the life of someone close to you. Unfortunately, the incidence of this disease is expected to rise with the increase in life expectancy and the aging of the
Alzheimer’s disease causes the brain to shrink by degrading the neural connections and the neurons themselves. This degradation eventually compromises functions such as swallowing and breathing; resulting in death. The exact cause of the tissue death is unknown; but two distinct features of the disease are plaques and tangles. Plaques are clumps of
Research has shown us that the risk of Alzheimer’s increases with conditions that damage the heart and blood vessels; i.e. high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and high cholesterol. Autopsy studies show that as many as 80 percent of Alzheimer’s patients also had cardiovascular disease. There is also evidence that exercise can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s4. Even more exciting is the data supporting the theory that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s5. When I look at all this research, I see one thing: Inflammation. If we want to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, heart disease or even cancer; we have to keep inflammation in our bodies to a minimum.
Exercise and eating a diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (like the Mediterranean diet) both fight inflammation. It is important to supplement your diet with omega 3 and increase healthy fats to 20 percent of your total intake. Make sure you are getting at least 15 mg of vitamin E in your diet. Sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, almonds, spinach and broccoli are all good sources of
vitamin E. Additionally, individuals who continue to challenge themselves intellectually and engage socially are at significantly lower risk of Alzheimer’s than those who do not1.
Researchers and doctors are on the road to solving the puzzle that is Alzheimer’s but they are not there yet. In the meantime, we can protect ourselves with