Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting the brain and impairing memory, mood, thinking, and problem-solving. The first symptoms of Alzheimer’s are usually reported in a patient’s mid-sixties to early seventies. It is actually a type of dementia accounting for the majority (60%-80%) of all dementia cases. In Pathology reports we can see commonalities in the brain physiology of those patients suspected of having the disease:
- Amyloid plaques in the brain;
- Tau tangles in the brain;
- Impairment of connections between neurons;
- Brain atrophy (shrinking of the brain);
Since the turn of the twentieth century, Alzheimer’s, Dementia and other Neurodegenerative disorders have increased at a steady rate. This is significant in that statistics related to deaths by almost every Chronic Disease have dropped in occurrences: Cardiovascular disease; Diabetes; Stroke and even Cancer. However, deaths by Alzheimer’s have increased by 87% in the last 10 years. Once considered a rare disease affecting only a handful of unfortunates, by 2016, Alzheimer’s was the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. However, some researchers believe that this is a misleading figure and that Alzheimer’s is underreported as a cause of death. Due to causes of death such as Pneumonia, they believe that these symptoms of Alzheimer’s have hidden that it has emerged, today, as the number three killer of Americans.
Most of us look at our Golden Years as a time when we can enjoy the fruits of our labors, hard work and most of all, Family. Now, 10% over the age of 65 will develop some form of Dementia while an astounding 50% of Americans over 85 will develop the disease. Studies have shown that a spouse as a primary caregiver to an Alzheimer’s patient has a 600% increase in the likelihood to, themselves, develop the disease. With today’s advancements in Healthcare treatments, living beyond the age of 85 is not unusual. Now, the specter of living out those extra years forgetting family; memories and names (even your own) lies ahead for every family in America. This is a tremendous qualitative cost to our society. Quantitatively, Alzheimer’s has emerged as the single biggest drain on U.S. Healthcare dollars. The disease is costing the U.S. annually a shocking $226 Billion with the Worldwide Cost at an estimated $604 Billion. By 2050, the World Health Organization has estimated Worldwide expenses for Alzheimer’s will reach $20 Trillion. This figure does not even consider the enormous cost of unpaid caregivers (usually family); in 2015 it was estimated that over 18 Billion hours of unpaid care was provided for Alzheimer’s patients worldwide.
Over a century of Alzheimer’s research has only recently led to some ubiquitous facts regarding this devastating disease:
There are four biological commonalities in the vast majority of decedents:
- glucose dysregulation,
- lipid dysregulation
These are the major factors and are processes that drive the risk of developing the disease. However, they are, largely, in your control to address. While age and genetic factors are important, the single greatest influence on your own Cognitive Health remains the Lifestyle decisions you choose in the decades before showing symptoms.
Lifestyle choices protecting the Brain through Diet
What can the average person do today to combat the onset of neurodegenerative disease? Healthy Nutrition remains the single most important factor and it is entirely in your control. This can be greatly assisted by the following nutritional strategies aimed at reducing inflammation and oxidative stress and which also appear to hold promise for preventing neurodegenerative disease:
- DHA: the brain’s principal omega-3 fatty acid,
- Low-Calorie or Calorie Restriction: Calorie restriction may protect against neurodegenerative pathology and has had a long association with longevity in mammals
- Polyphenols:These are the most abundant antioxidants found in the diet and studies have shown them to have neuroprotective effects and possibilities of the ubiquitin-proteasome system.
- Curcumin: this popular spice appears to stunt and possibly destroy accumulated plaque deposits which are indicative of AD
- Antioxidant Vitamins: these are important factors in the reduction of oxidative damage linked to neurodegeneration and are key to a strategy to prevent neurodegenerative disease
- Coenzyme Q10: studies indicate supplementing with this enzyme is associated with slower deterioration of function in patients with PD as it is required for mitochondrial ATP synthesis and functions as an antioxidant in cell membranes and lipoproteins.
Although these supplements can greatly improve your chances of avoiding the onset of Neurodegenerative Disease, there are other strategies that research supports:
Weight Loss: Obesity seems to be on the top of the list of concerns over the onset of Neurodegenerative Disease as studies have shown that people with higher levels of adiposity are at higher risk for both future PD and AD. Body fat plays a key role in proinflammatory reactions within the body. Alternatively, body fat has the distinction of being able to store more toxins which result in higher levels of fat or adiposity as a central factor in overall cognitive decline and dementia.
Diabetes: Researchers continue to find critically important links between obesity and neurodegeneration with Diabetes. Diabetes is linked to a higher risk of dementia and AD as well and Dementia has been classified as Type III Diabetes. The key takeaway from this should be that three factors influence your risks associated with Neurodegenerative Disease: your age; your genetic makeup and your Lifestyle. You cannot control your age or your genetic makeup, however, the sooner you get a medical approach to living a Healthy Lifestyle, the sooner you can prevent, delay or reverse the symptoms of these terrible diseases.
Through our Lifestyle Program, we can empower you to make decisions, today, which can prevent, delay or even reverse the symptoms of this devastating disease. We perform a baseline Health Assessment which reviews all of these factors, including genetic factors and age (which are not in your control), and develops a Lifestyle Protocol empowering you to take control of, not only your Lifestyle today, but how you can live your Life in your Senior years.