How Diabetes Drives Dementia Risk
Diabetes is linked to the degeneration of small blood vessels as well as strokes which are in turn risk factors of dementia. It is possible beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles, the biomarkers of Alzheimers, play a role in high blood sugar levels, Larson said. But more research is needed to pinpoint biological mechanisms linking diabetes and dementia beyond those related to blood flow.;
Most people have type 2 diabetes, which leads to a two-fold increased risk of developing Alzheimers. As cells fail to respond to insulin the hormone that manages blood sugar levels the body produces more insulin, which in turn, leads to overly high levels of blood sugar.;
Heres what you can do: Researchers warn that type 2 diabetes and Alzheimers are reaching epidemic proportions, as they urge people to manage their stress, get a good nights sleep, maintain a balanced weight, eat a healthy diet with less sugary beverages, stay active and exercise regularly.;
Read more about past research on the link between the brains metabolic function, diabetes and dementia;;
What You Should Do For Alzheimers Prevention
Even though we don’t have enough evidence that all healthy lifestyle choices prevent Alzheimer’s, we do know they can prevent other chronic problems. For example, limiting alcohol intake can help reduce the risk for certain cancers, such as breast cancer. Best advice: make as many healthy lifestyle choices as you can. “They’re all beneficial, and if they help you avoid Alzheimer’s, all the better,” says Dr. Marshall.
Know the symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Forgetting where you parked your car can be annoying. If it happens all the time, it can be disturbing, and you may worry that it’s a sign of a more serious condition. But don’t panic. There’s a difference between normal age-related memory slips, such as forgetting where the car keys are, and more serious signs of memory loss, such as forgetting what car keys are used for.
Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include frequent memory loss, confusion about locations, taking longer to accomplish normal daily tasks, trouble handling money and paying bills, loss of spontaneity, and mood and personality changes. “If you have a decline in your memory or thinking that affects your ability to perform any of your daily routines, ask your doctor for a screening to evaluate you for Alzheimer’s and related conditions,” says Dr. Gad Marshall, a Harvard Medical School assistant professor of neurology.
Keep Your Heart Healthy
Many of the same strategies to reduce heart disease also benefit your brain. For example, research suggests that high blood pressure is correlated with an increased risk of dementia, while lowering it through exercise and a heart-healthy diet can reduce your risk.
Interestingly, studies have found that if you’re not effective with your efforts through diet and exercise, your risk of dementia can still be reduced by taking medications to lower your blood pressure.
Top 6 Ways To Help You Prevent Alzheimers Disease
Top 6 Ways to Help You Prevent Alzheimers Disease
With so many living much longer lives, the potential for developing dementia or Alzheimers Disease increases. Here are some easy to follow steps you can take to help yourself or a loved one from developing these devastating age-related diseases.
Speak A Second Language
Learning a second language can help you out during your next international trip and help you feel empowered because you are learning something new. But learning a new language can also help improve your cognitive skills, helping to keep dementia at bay.; The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America reports that lifelong bilingualism can prevent cognitive decline and may help delay the onset of dementia.
If you havent been speaking a second language for your lifetime, dont despair. You can still reap significant benefits from learning a new language in your senior years. The Glasgow Memory Clinic states that people who learn a new language tend to have lower rates of dementia and memory issues later. While direct reasoning is not yet determined, it appears that learning a new language can cause resiliency in the brain, helping to reduce the chance of dementia or even delay its onset.
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Physical Activity And The Pace Of Cognitive Decline
In the second study, a different group of investigators examined physical activity, blood total tau concentration , and cognitive function in 1,159 participants in the Chicago Health and Aging Project. These individuals were 63% women, 60% African American, and, on average, 77 years old. Among the participants, 31% reported little or no physical activity, 34.5% reported medium physical activity , and 34.5% reported high physical activity . The results showed that whether individuals had high or low levels of tau in their blood, increased physical activity was associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline.
Exercise Regularly At A High Intensity
“Exercise can protect against Alzheimer’s because it not only increases blood flow to the brain, but it loosens up that amyloid plaque, the bad sticky stuff that gets caught up and gunked up in the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease,” noted Isaacson.
Any exercise helps, but experts recommend getting at least three hours of rigorous activity a week. Ideally, that would be two cardio workouts and one strength-training session.
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What Is Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers typically affects seniors and is the most common form of dementia in the United States. Symptoms usually first surface in the sixties. Early-onset Alzheimers affects under 5 percent of those with the disease, with symptoms showing up anywhere from age 30 to 60. While genetics do a play part in bringing on Alzheimers in some people, other factors could play a part as well. Like the impact of other health problems including cardiovascular problems, and metabolic issues like obesity and diabetes. Diet, physical activity, mental stimulation, and social engagement may also influence the risk of developing the problem.3
Obesity And Dementia Risk
Research shows people who are obese are more likely to develop dementia later in life. Some researchers say obesity should be considered premature aging, as it is strongly linked to chronic health problems in old age.;
According to Adesola Ogunniyi, an author of the report and a professor of medicine at University of Ibadan, Nigeria, obesity is a risk factor for chronic cardiovascular diseases, which damage blood vessels in the brain and reduce blood flow. This leads to a cascade of inflammation and oxidative stress an imbalance between oxygen-containing molecules and antioxidants which would eventually lead to the death of brain cells.;
Heres what you can do:Ogunniyi recommended losing weight, avoiding excess calories and reducing sugary beverages along with staying active and exercising.;
Read more about past research on the link between obesity in midlife, body mass index and dementia
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Education And Cognitive Health
Receiving more education in early life mayreduce risk of dementia. According to Lon Schneider, an author of the report and professor of psychiatry, neurology, and gerontology at the University of Southern California, the more we learn, the more cognitive reserve we build up. While connections between brain cells, also known as synapses, may falter due to aging and sickness, You have more reserves to start with, so youre more resilient against illnesses, said Schneider.
Heres what you can do: Engaging in intellectual activities later in life can potentially help maintain cognitive abilities. One study in China which found people older than the age of 65 who read, played games or bet more frequently were less likely to develop dementia. Another study showed that people who participated in intellectual, physical and social activities in midlife were more likely to have better cognition in old age.
Read more about past research on the link between early childhood education and Alzheimers disease, the most common form of dementia.;;
Pillar #: Social Engagement
Human beings are highly social creatures. We dont thrive in isolation, and neither do our brains. Staying socially engaged may even protect against symptoms of Alzheimers disease and dementia in later life, so make developing and maintaining a strong network of friends a priority.
You dont need to be a social butterfly or the life of the party, but you do need to regularly connect face-to-face with someone who cares about you and makes you feel heard. While many of us become more isolated as we get older, its never too late to meet others and develop new friendships:
- Join a club or social group.
- Visit your local community center or senior center.
- Take group classes .
- Get to know your neighbors.
- Make a weekly date with friends.
- Get out .
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While Dementia Is Not Necessarily Preventable Scientists Now Understand Even More Clearly The Extent To Which Some Lifestyle Changes Can Significantly Lower Ones Odds Of Developing Dementia Here Are 12 Risk Factors That Could Potentially Delay Or Prevent 40 Percent Of Dementia Cases Worldwide
Researchers project the number of people living with dementia, a neurodegenerative syndrome which currently afflicts 50 million people worldwide, will more than triple by 2050, soaring to 152 million cases globally. But experts in a recent report say two in five dementia cases could potentially be delayed or prevented by certain lifestyle choices and government policies.
The report builds on the previous nine risk factors identified;by the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care, and adds three additional risk factors air pollution, traumatic brain injury and excessive consumption of alcohol. ;
Eric Larson, an author of the study and senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, said just as people cant control their genetics, people in their 40s cant retroactively change their socioeconomic circumstances in early life but people of all ages can, to varying extents, make lifestyle choices like habitual exercising to improve their health.;
In my own practice, Ive been telling patients it would be a good idea to exercise regularly, Larson said. When they found out that you could preserve your brain and reduce your risk of dementia, it was actually a powerful motivator for many people to become a regular exerciser.;
Being Patient takes a closer look at how each risk factor is linked to dementia.;
What Are The Risk Factors For Dementia
A major risk factor for dementia is insulin resistance. In fact, scientists have begun calling dementia Type 3 Diabetes. Other risk factors include chronic inflammation, leaky gut syndrome, elevated homocysteine levels, abnormal blood lipids, prescription medications, and excessive alcohol consumption. Rarely is dementia considered genetic.
Dementia shares many of the same risk factors as other chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
While dementia typically affects older individuals , it can actually begin at a young age and takes years to develop and worsen.
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Pillar #: Regular Exercise
According to the Alzheimers Research and Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimers disease by up to 50 percent. Whats more, exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems. Exercise protects against Alzheimers and other types of dementia by stimulating the brains ability to maintain old connections as well as make new ones.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. The ideal plan involves a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Good activities for beginners include walking and swimming.
Build muscle to pump up your brain. Moderate levels of weight and resistance training not only increase muscle mass, they help you maintain brain health. For those over 65, adding 2-3 strength sessions to your weekly routine may cut your risk of Alzheimers in half.
Include balance and coordination exercises. Head injuries from falls are an increasing risk as you age, which in turn increase your risk for Alzheimers disease and dementia. As well as protecting your head when you exercise , balance and coordination exercises can help you stay agile and avoid spills. Try yoga, Tai Chi, or exercises using balance balls.
Why Education May Help Prevent Dementia
Education could play an important role in improving cognitive reserve, which is the brains ability to cope with damage that would otherwise lead to dementia, according to Oh.;
Research suggests that education helps the brain develop more synapses, which are the junctions between brain cells that relay information, but were not entirely sure, says Oh. More synapses may boost cognitive reserve, which may help prevent dementia.
Another reason could be that people with more education tend to have healthier lifestyles than those with less education. People who are more educated may be more aware that smoking, lack of exercise and not eating well are bad for their health, she says, and they may make healthier choices.
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Eat Like A Mediterranean
Over the past decades, research has formed a strong connection between dementia and diet. The Alzheimers Association reports that heart-healthy eating may also end up protecting the brain just as much as the heart.
Currently, there are two diets that might be the most beneficial to lowering the risk of dementia: the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet. The DASH diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet, focuses on eating more vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans and vegetable oils. Similarly, the Mediterranean diet discourages red meat, instead encouraging more grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil.;
Which one should you choose? The National Institutes of Health reports that eating a Mediterranean diet can decrease risk of age-related dementia, but the DASH diet is also showing promising results in research studies as well. Talk to your physician about which might be best for you.
Give Your Brain Strong Relationships
Your brain thrives when you are talking and spending time with those you love. Building and maintaining strong relationships with others is vital to your health and may even reduce your risk of dementia by 26%, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health.
Action Strategy: Make healthy relationships a priority. Feeling safe and connected can improve your brain health so offer your love and time freely but also set limits on spending time with people who may be toxic.
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Take Your Brain For A Walk
Getting up and moving helps to keep your body and brain strong. Research is unclear on whether exercise prevents dementia, but there are many studies that suggest regular activity is good for your brain. One even showed low dementia risk among very fit women. Physical activity helps prevent other health conditions linked to dementia including:
- High blood pressure
Action Strategy: Just do it. Start small but make sure you start. Add a small activity, depending on your level of physical fitness. This could be as simple as walking up and down a hallway a few times or as challenging as a 5-mile hike with friends. Aim to fit 150 minutes of physical movement that gets your heart beating faster into each week.
What Is Alzheimers
Alzheimers is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a deterioration in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from normal aging. It affects memory, clear thinking, language skills and orientation. It reduces comprehension, learning capacity and judgment.
We know that the disease is characterized by two types of proteins in the brain: tangles and plaques . As these proteins accumulate, they kill brain cells and block neural pathways. These beta-amyloid protein deposits are believed to be one of the main causes of Alzheimers.
Scientists are also learning what seems to trigger these toxic proteins. Sometimes its a genetic proclivity but often it is lifestyle-related.
Early-onset Alzheimers usually occurs in younger people between the ages of 30 and 60. It is often a result of a genetic mutation.
Late-onset Alzheimers may be genetic and has been clinically linked to a gene called ApoE . However, it is more likely a result of brain changes caused by lifestyle and environmental impacts. In other words, inherited genes arent the only cause of Alzheimers.
While we cant change our genetic profile and there is no known way to prevent Alzheimers, we can change our lifestyle to reduce our risk. According to a report released by the World Health Organization earlier this year, people can reduce the risk of cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimers.