You’ve probably met a person or two who has Alzheimer’s disease. Perhaps it runs in your family and your parents or grandparents have it now. In any way, Alzheimer’s is clearly something you wouldn’t wish you or any of your loved ones to have. It’s like your brain is a small iceberg, and parts of it would topple off every time it catches sunlight. There would be days when the ‘sun’ would be so bright and you lose a big chunk of your brain, and then there would also days that you wouldn’t lose anything. Such is the life of a person whose brain is being attacked by the big ‘A’ or ‘AD’ as it is commonly referred to. Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for this form of dementia. The good news is that there are ways you can manage it or even prevent it.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
AD is divided into four stages, which are pre-dementia, early, moderate, and advanced. During the pre-dementia stage, the most noticeable symptom is short-term memory loss. The early stage, on the other hand, is often characterized by language problems. It’s on the third stage that the patient would experience worsening symptoms including unpremeditated aggression, irritability, and resistance to caregiving. During the advanced stages, patients would be totally dependent on caregiving as they would not be able to perform simple tasks on their own anymore.
Why Do People Develop AD?
Alzheimer’s is considered a complex disease, and until now, the cause for most cases is still mostly not known. However, the two most common risk factors considered are age and genetics. According to statistics, the risk of developing AD doubles every five years after the age of 65. However, it is no longer considered a disease of old age, since there are cases that people would acquire it in their 40s or 50s. This is referred to as early-onset or younger-onset. This is rare, though, and accounts for only 5% of the American population. Genetics and family history play a huge role in the development of Alzheimer’s, though. Based on studies, individuals who have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s are more likely to have it later on as well. Moreover, the risk increases if there is more than one member of the family who has the illness.
7 Surprising Facts About Alzheimer’s
- AD is the most form of dementia, along with Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, mixed dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, and vascular dementia.
- Women have a higher risk of developing AD, and numbers tell us that there are nearly twice as many women have the illness as men. Moreover, the condition worsens in females more quickly than it does in males.
- Heart problems can increase a person’s risk of getting AD, as well as vascular dementia. High blood pressure, diabetes, non-active lifestyle, high cholesterol, and poor diet are also considered risk factors.
- According to the National Institute of Aging, education is a great way to lower your risk of developing AD. You’ll have lower odds of getting it if you keep your brain active by taking classes, learning a new language, or playing musical instruments as you grow older.
- AD is considered a unique cause of death. It’s also one of the leading causes of death in the US, claiming nearly 85,000 lives in 2010.
- Your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease increases dramatically if you have diabetes.
- Someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s every 66 seconds.
20 Famous People With Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is no respecter of person. Here’s a list of 20 famous people known to have had AD.
- Glenn Campbell
- Malcolm Young
- Pat Summitt
- Charles Bronson
- Perry Como
- Ronald Reagan
- Norman Rockwell
- Rita Hayworth
- Sugar Ray Robinson
- Aaron Copeland
- Peter Falk
- Burgess Meredith
- Eddie Albert
- Evelyn Keyes
- James Stewart
- B White
- Rosa Parks
- Casey Kasem
- Robin Williams
Natural Ways To Treat Alzheimer’s Disease
Scientists have recently been trying to uncover major breakthroughs regarding Alzheimer’s, which means they might be able to find a cure in the future. For now, the good news is that there are natural ways people who have AD can manage their symptoms. These same methods will also help keep the disease at bay for those who have a high risk for developing it.
Your Diet Totally Matters
There is no better medicine for any health condition than food. With regards to Alzheimer’s, the kind of diet you have will play a huge role in both managing your symptoms if you have AD and reducing your risk of having it if you don’t have it yet. The Mediterranean diet, in particular, seems to be effective against AD. A study published by American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry shows that the Mediterranean diet is a great lifestyle factor that could keep the brain from developing toxic gunk associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Such diet usually includes the following:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables such as kale, spinach, eggplant, artichokes, fennel, tomatoes, and cauliflower
- Nuts and seeds such as sesame seeds and almond seeds
- Herbs and spices like oregano, parsley, and rosemary
- Wild-caught fish
- High-quality poultry, eggs, goat milk, and cheese
- Probiotic-rich yogurt or kefir
- Red meat (occasionally)
- Olive oil
- Whole grains
- Red wine (occasionally)
- Water (lots and lots of it)
- Tea or Coffee
It’s also very important to stay away from foods that may increase your risk of developing AD. Here’s a list of such foods:
- Refined grains
- White foods
- Red Meats
- Foods with aluminium packaging
- Any food that contains additives
- Processed foods and meats
- Foods containing diacetyl or nitrate
- Advanced glycation end food products
Exercise Your Way To A Healthy Brain
It’s a known fact that exercise helps stimulate the brain. Not a lot of people know, however, that maintaining an active lifestyle is one of the best ways to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Physical activity helps keep blood circulating in the brain. It also increases chemicals that protect the brain, as well as aid in countering reduction in brain connections that usually occurs with aging.
Any type of exercise will do, but if you can, opt for burst training or high-intensity interval training. See to it that you can do more steady state cardio exercises as well, as a recent study has found out that such exercises can create more brain neurons than any other form of exercise.
What You Do For A Living Can Help Manage Slow Down AD
This doesn’t mean that you should leave your current job, but studies made by Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, as well as the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute found that certain jobs could help protect the brain against dementia. According to the study, middle-aged individuals, who worked in a more social setting, such as doctors and teachers, seem to had a better chance of maintaining their cognitive function compared to those who worked in isolated settings. Perhaps the reason is that humans are social creatures, and working directly with people seems to help in fighting signs of dementia. Again, this doesn’t mean you should switch jobs. If you work in a more isolated environment, you can still do something about it by being social after work or during your off days.
Avoiding Certain OTC Drugs Can Lower Your Risks
It’s not a surprise that more and more people are turning to natural remedies. Studies suggest that many over-the-counter drugs nowadays can be linked to dementia. This is especially true with allergy and sleep meds such as Advil PM, Unison, Dramamine, and Benadryl. These meds are known to have anticholinergic properties, which has been linked to a decline in mental processes. In 2016, JAMA Neurology published a study that showed how anticholinergic meds trigger increased rates of brain atrophy and lower brain metabolism at the same time. A few asthma medications and antidepressants have been found to have the same effects. If you need any of these medications, it’s important that talk to your doctor to see if there’s a safer alternative.
Keeping Your Gut Healthy Will Keep Alzheimer’s At Bay
You’re probably unaware of it, but many experts call the guts as the “second brain”. This is because it is closely tied to brain-related issues. In 2016, researchers from the University of Chicago found that the long-term use of antibiotics in mice change their gut bacteria in such a way that it helped reduce the level of amyloid-beta proteins in their brain. Amyloid-beta are proteins found in the fatty membrane that surround our nerve cells. These proteins may clump together and build up into plaques. This is just a preliminary research, but it gives us an idea how important it is for us to take care of our digestive system. Moreover, experts could look for a more natural way to keep the gut healthy without the use of antibiotics in the future.
Essential Oils Will Definitely Help
Essential oils are natural compounds extracted from aromatic plants that offer a number of health benefits. They have been shown to support immunity and gut health, balance hormones, and help detoxify organs. When odor molecules from these oils are inhaled, they are sensed by the olfactory cells first, and then make their way into your brain. The olfactory system is linked to the limbic system, which is the one responsible for emotions, long-term memory, heart rate, and attention among many others. The essential oils of a number of plants have been found to help neurological development and brain function. Among these are lavender, frankincense, lemon, vetiver, and peppermint. Incorporate any of these to your health routine and you’ll discover an elevation in your mood, as well as an enhancement in your focus and concentration.
Your Sleeping Position May Help Lower Your Risks, Too
We all know that sleep is one of the ways the body heals itself naturally, and we all know we should be getting at least eight hours of sleep every day if our brain is to function in its fullest capacity. But, do you know that your sleeping position matters, too? According to a study done by Stony Brook University researchers, sleeping on the side may more effectively eliminate brain waste and lower a person’s risk of dementia.
A Few More Thoughts About Alzheimer’s Disease
While Alzheimer’s disease may be impacting a rising number of adults, it is not a natural part of the ageing process. This is good news for many of us who are approaching our sixties, because this means we can actually keep this condition at bay. Another good news is that 2016 has been a promising year. Brain experts have been struggling to find therapies for this incurable disease, and last year, several studies have produced successful results, showing how diet and exercise could help prevent Alzheimer’s.
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