Alzheimer’s disease and other Dementia May be Preventable
According to health surveys such as the one reported recently in the Daily Mail Online, an electronic media coming out of the UK, the likelihood of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s rates higher on the fear factor than of developing cancer. Community-wide concern appears to be fueled by the seeming fact that in spite of the tremendous amount of research conducted so far, there is not very much available to treat these diseases. There are drug therapies to help lessen the symptoms and in some cases, to slow down the progression of the disease, but nothing to fully treat it, such as exists for cancers.
The Daily Mail Online article defines dementia as a condition that begins, usually, after the age of 65 impacting roughly one in every six persons over the age of 80. Symptoms include confusion, difficulty putting together thoughts, and memory loss. Altogether, there are in excess of 100 of these dementia, with Alzheimer’s being the most well-known.
The causes of dementia are varied, but Alzheimer’s research demonstrates a definite correlation between the disease and the presence of an over-abundance of amyloid and tau, two deviant proteins which damage the connections between brain cells.
Too much sugar and body fat can place you at a higher risk for dementia
Another common form of dementia is called vascular dementia. In these cases, blood flow is diminished resulting in less blood flowing to the brain cells which in turn results in brain cell death. Blood vessels can become restricted due to stroke or from health conditions, such as obesity and diabetes. Some people will develop a combination of Alzheimer’s and dementia, each one stemming from a different cause. Nevertheless, research has proven that certain proactive steps, such as changing diet and lifestyle, can prevent or at least significantly delay onset of the disease.
For instance, excessive body fat has been linked to dementia. Too much fat tissue in the body causes the release of hormones that destroy brain cells. Too much fat tissue also causes blocked arteries, high blood pressure and cholesterol, known factors in the onset of vascular dementia. Therefore, individuals who maintain a diet high in sugar are not only placing themselves at risk for developing diabetes or obesity, but also for vascular dementia. Scientists have also discovered that blood sugar levels play a role in the signaling process between brain cells, meaning that a high sugar diet places one at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Diabetes results in damage to the blood vessels, particularly the smaller vessels in the brain, thus impeding cell functioning.
Dementia are not unavoidable
Last March, World Dementia Council head Dr. Dennis Gillings, said that he believes that within five years we will have new treatments for Alzheimer’s and other dementia, even the possibility of halting progression and reversing the damage. In the meantime, Dr. Naji Tabet, a senior lecturer at Brighton and Sussex Medical School and one of the foremost specialists in dementia, told Daily Mail Online that even for those whose family history would indicate they are more likely to develop dementia, there is hope to prevent its onset or significantly delay it, simply by making crucial lifestyle changes such as reducing sugar, maintaining a healthy blood pressure, keeping the body fat index as low as possible, lowering stress and exercising the brain. Dr. Tabet added that what is inevitable is that our brains shrink as we age, and the connections between brain cells become weakened, but if we make these simple lifestyle changes early in life, we can build up a reserve of strength upon which to draw down as aging begins.