According to statistics released in 2013, more than 5 million American adults are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This neurological disease is an advanced form of dementia that affects millions of people around the world, and according to scientists, the cases of Alzheimer’s disease will triple by 2050.
The severe form of dementia is fatal for 500 000 Americans every year – even if it doesn’t kill you, it can leave you seriously disabled. There’s still no treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s disease, with scientists recommending following some prevention steps in order to avoid becoming a statistic.
The steps involve lifestyle and diet changes as well as regular exercise and proper sleep. According to Dr. Richard Lipton from the Einstein College of Medicine, the preliminary studies on these lifestyle changes as a form of treatment of Alzheimer’s have shown positive results and work better than most drugs.
Sugar may be the main culprit for Alzheimer’s
There’s a ton of evidence unveiled recently which indicates that a diet rich in sugar may play a major role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Sugar can be found in almost everything we eat, including processed foods. Processed food is at the center of the common western diet and besides sugar, it also contains a high level of fat and carbs. T
he link between sugar and Alzheimer’s disease was first mentioned over 10 years ago, when scientists found out that the brain stimulates the production of insulin which is necessary for the survival of cells. At the same time, they also found out that ADDL, a toxic protein, can remove insulin receptors from our cells, making them insulin resistant and causing a slew of problems. This is exactly the reason why some studies discovered that diabetics are more prone to Alzheimer’s disease.
At the moment, scientists are trying to confirm the link between Alzheimer’s and insulin resistance. Studies have found out that greater insulin resistance is caused by less sugar in key areas of the brain. This is directly linked to Alzheimer’s disease which causes a slow reduction of blood sugar in certain parts of the brain, which leaves it without “fuel” and makes it harder to learn and remember complex things.
The risk factors for heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease are the same
Scientists are now sure that insulin resistance can raise the risk of heart disease, which means that both diseases share the risk factors. Even atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is linked to the build up of (beta-amyloid) plaque in the brain which causes the neurological disease. According to recent research, smoking, alcohol abuse, high blood sugar levels and obesity are causing both disease. This goes in line with Dr. David Perlmutter’s research, who says that lifestyle choices are the main cause of Alzheimer’s disease. In general, anything promoting insulin resistance significantly raises the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
A study confirms that high blood sugar levels are linked to Alzheimer’s disease
In 2013, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study which showed that even a slight increase in glucose is linked to higher risk of dementia. Dr. Perlmutter says that glucose readings of 92 are considered high, with 95 being the maximum allowed. The ideal fating blood sugar levels are 70-85 and should be kept in this range. If your blood sugar levels are too high, you must make lifestyle and diet changes in order to reduce it and the risk of dementia.
Exercise is highly important
A few recent studies have underlined the importance of exercise for treating dementia. Exercise can not only reduce the risk of the disease – it also has a therapeutic effect. Patients suffering from mild dementia had reduced symptoms after 4 months of supervised training. Another study showed that aerobic exercise over 6 weeks can reduce the tau tangles – brain tangles directly associated with the onset of dementia.
This shows that exercise is important for your brain just as much as it’s important for your muscles.
Sleep plays a role as well
Of course, we can’t undermine the importance of proper sleep on our mental and physical health. Proper rest overnight will allow the brain to repair and heal, which will make it function far better. During the deep sleep phase, the brain flushes waste through the so-called glymphatic system. Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s disease patients often suffer from poor sleep as well, and that poor sleep may be an early indicator of beta-amyloid plaque accumulation in the brain, the main risk factor for dementia. This is why you need to sleep 7-9 hours overnight and make sure you don’t wake up.
How to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease?
Besides regular exercise and proper sleep, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia can be done by eating a healthy diet, avoiding casein and gluten and optimizing your gut flora. Avoid consuming refined carbs and replace them with healthy fats from avocados, dairy and organic eggs. Sugar is definitely out of the question, so you need to reduce its intake or completely avoid consuming it.
According to studies, magnesium and vitamin D supplements, intermittent fasting and adding folate in your diet can also help. Make sure to reduce your exposure to heavy metals such as aluminum and mercury and stay away from statins and flu vaccines as well, as they have been found to raise the risk of dementia.
Finally, keep your brain active and sharp by challenging it every day. Learn a new language or play challenging games in order to keep your brain alert and reduce the risk of dementia.