WHAT IS ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive breakdown of the brain where memory and thinking skills decline; eventually the simplest tasks of daily living become impossible. This degradation occurs when the nerve cells within the brain begin to “malfunction” as a result of an accumulation of various protein fragments called amyloid and tau. This disease is usually seen in women and typically occurs after the age of 65 with an increase risk as you age.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF ALZHEIMER’S?
According to the National Institute of Aging, Alzheimer’s is characterized by the following signs:
- Memory loss
- Poor judgment leading to bad decisions
- Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
- Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
- Repeating questions
- Trouble handling money and paying bills
- Wandering and getting lost
- Losing things or misplacing them in odd places
- Mood and personality changes
- Increased anxiety and/or aggression
WAYS TO PREVENT
Research points to certain changes in daily living to prevent or mitigate the effects of Alzheimer’s disease with a decrease in protein fragments (tau and amyloid) and an increase in brain function. A combination of physical fitness, supplementation, nutrition, and brain stimulating games has been shown to either prevent or slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s. Even though Alzheimer’s is classified as an older adult disease, the time to take action and prepare is in your youth. Even if you are past your youth or well past the age of 65, you can start today to taking preventative measures against developing Alzheimer’s.
1. Physical Fitness
Aerobic exercises (walking, running, tennis..etc) and resistant exercises (weight lifting) have been linked with improved brain function. When you exercise the brain and body release growth factors and hormones, necessary components for wiring the brain during learning and memory. A combination of aerobic and resistance exercises is not only great for connections within the brain, but helps with the uptake of necessary nutrients for normal brain function.
If you’re not used to exercising on a regular basis, try walking 10-15 minutes per a day for 5 days a week, and work your way up to 30 minutes a day. If you need to, break up the 30 minutes; the most important thing is to create a routine and put in those minutes.
For resistance training, choose 5-7 exercises that focus on various areas such as hip, knee, chest, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. Work each muscle group through 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions; enough to exhaust the muscles.
One of the proposed mechanisms for how amyloid and tau protein fragments come about is through oxidative stress; chemical stress. Supplementing with powerful antioxidants such as green tea, black pepper, and turmeric have been shown to help with memory and learning impairments. Other supplements that improve brain function are magnesium, omega 3 oils, and vitamin D.
The following can be used as a guide when it comes to recommendations on the amounts of various supplements:
2 Teaspoons of omega 3 oils (740-825 mg of EPA, 460-550 mg of DHA, 1400-1700 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids). Check out this previous article for information on Omega 3 oils or guidelines for what to look for in a quality omega 3 oil. About 150 mg of Magnesium-L-Threonate. 2,000 IU’s of Vitamin D3 with Vitamin K2.
3. Good Nutrition
A number of foods that have earned the title of superfoods have powerful compounds, such as antioxidants and polyphenols, that can turn the tide in neurodegenerative effects on the brain. Pomegranates, blueberries, cruciferous vegetables (Kale, cauliflower, broccoli just to name a few), and coconut oil have all been shown to improve brain function in the area of memory and to decrease protein fragments of amyloid.
Other dietary changes that involve alternative fuel source to simple sugars can have positive effects on brain performance. Coconut oil is not only a superfood, but provides the brain with energy by bypassing certain pathways that are often blocked in Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Consuming just 2 ¾ tablespoons of coconut oil a day (½ in the morning and ½ in the afternoon) for 3 weeks can improve brain function in individual with Alzheimers. Eating a strict diet that consists of low carbohydrates with minimal amounts of protein can also provide ketones as an alternative fuel source for the brain as well as increase insulin sensitivity (Individuals with diabetes are often insulin insensitive).