While billions of dollars have been spent trying to find improved treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease, and a path to a cure, there are no breakthroughs yet. There are several hypotheses as to the cause, but, sadly, much of how this horrid disease starts and works remains a mystery.
In the interim, linkages have been found. Linkages that show certain things are associated with a higher risk. That doesn’t mean cause, it just means that a greater portion of people showing Factor X develop AD than the people who don’t show Factor X.
In many of those cases, we can do something to eliminate or change Factor X.
Meet Some Of The Many Manifestations of Factor X
Belly Fat. A study reported Neurology found that obesity in the mid-section was associated with lower volume of gray matter in the brain. Gray matter is where most of our nerve cells – e.g.: neurons, dendrites, axons and so on- are located. Changes in gray matter are associated with memory decline and dementia. Guys: grab a tape measure. Measure your waistline – not down below a pot belly- right at your naval. If the number is over 40 inches, you have a problem with belly fat. (Fat elsewhere in the body doesn’t seem to be as troublesome). Link to the study here.
Remedy. Change your diet and step up your exercise. That combination seems to be more effective than either alone. If you are living a sedentary lifestyle now, see your doc to determine how to begin a program. Don’t enter a triathlon, get injured and sue us. The Mediterranean diet, and the many similar ones, seem to be the healthiest.
Type 2 Diabetes. Research indicates there may be a link between Type 2 Diabetes and AD. Dr. Bonner-Jackson of the Cleveland Clinic noted: “We think there’s a strong connection between diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease. Even at prediabetes, we’re seeing brain changes already, so it’s very important for people in that stage to get it under control as quickly and effectively as possible”.
Remedy. Just because diabetes is common doesn’t mean it isn’t bad. Don’t take advice on this from a newsletter. See your doc. Follow her directions. Take your meds.
Inactivity. Sitting around watching TV or mindlessly scrolling Instagram and Facebook, that is, feeding your brain candy, is associated with increased risk.
Remedy. Trade TV and Twitter time for crosswords, jigsaws, sudoku, Call of Duty, puzzles, chess, checkers, Flight Simulator and Go. Learn new things to stretch your brain; musical instruments are at the top of the list.
Gum disease. Don’t ask why – an area that currently has no explanation. But people with this factor mathematically show up over-represented in cases of AD. (Just for added emphasis, gum disease is also correlated with pancreatic cancer).
Remedy. Obvious isn’t it? See your dentist or specialist. Obviously a widespread and potentially lethal virus makes a dentist trip even more spooky than many already find it to be. Put on your big boy/big girl jeans and do it. Wear a mask. It is a little thing to ask.
Poor vision. A study reported in JAMA Ophthalmology covered 1,061 women. Those with 20/40 vision were twice as likely to develop dementia as those with 20/20.
Remedy. Another obvious one isn’t it? When’s the last time you read an eye chart?
Hearing loss. Just like uncorrected vision loss, hearing loss is associated with increased risk of AD. Quite linearly: with a small loss of hearing, risk is a little less than double; with a moderate loss the risk is almost triple that of someone with good hearing, and severe hearing loss is linked with a five-times higher risk of AD. More on that here.
Remedy. You have probably known someone who refused to accept their hearing loss even though the television volume level chased others out of the room. Don’t be that person. Get your hearing tested. Yes, hearing aids are too expensive. Shop around. Studies indicate that restoring hearing can improve brain health. Don’t wait until irreversible damage.
Sleep disorders. New research finds that individuals with disorders like sleep apnea are at higher risk of AD.
Remedy. See your doc. Get a sleep study if you are one of millions who struggle with getting a restorative night’s sleep. Our 12 excellent tips for getting a full restful night’s sleep here.
Inflammation. Higher levels of inflammation in midlife are associated with a higher risk of AD twenty years later.
Remedy. Inflammation can have a variety of causes, some as simple as over-eating. Routine physicals and blood work may show some signs of it. Don’t skip those. Walking four or more times a week might help. Same with regular meditation.
Alcohol consumption. We are probably more tired of writing about this topic than you are of reading it. All the latest guidelines now indicate no more than 1 drink a day. More here. One of the landmark studies was performed in France and concluded that one third of cases of early-onset dementia was directly tied to alcohol consumption. Link to that study here
Remedy. One drink a day folks. And don’t think you can skip three days and have four drinks the next day. That may be even worse than drinking more than one per day. And that one isn’t a triple shot either….
We wish that avoiding these risks was enough. Sadly, there are folks that do everyone of these and still fall prey to this disease. Follow the news from multiple sources for the latest. Research to find treatments and cures continues. More risk factors like these will likely be identified. Reach into your wallet or purse and donate to the organizations that are sponsoring research.
More Brain-Building Ideas
I founded Big Brain Place because I saw how fast science is discovering the secrets to brain health, and realized how little I knew about it. Clearly I couldn't be the only one not familiar with the possible actions that can optimize brain health. At BigBrain.Place we are on a mission to help everyone, at any age, improve cognition, reduce the risk of dementia, insure our children have the opportunity to develop maximum brain capacity, and, in general, make our brainspans match our lifespans.
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