The Most Important Principles for Staying Young: Can You Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

17 Mar

Our basic premise is that your body is amazing. You get a do over. It doesn’t take that long, and it isn’t that hard if you know what to do. In these notes, we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you and for you to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over both the quality and length of your life.

This month’s YOUR Do-Over Tips are about preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Q) My 89-year-old mother passed away after having Alzheimer’s for about seven years. I’m 59 and scared I’m going to develop it and so will my kids. Is there anything we can do to reduce our risk? Karen B., Stillwater, OK
  1. A) We’re sorry for your loss, but there’s good news about avoiding Alzheimer’s. True, early onset Alzheimer’s seems to be familial; if a parent has the gene associated with early-onset (when symptoms appear before age 50), a child has a 50/50 chance of developing Alzheimer’s. But your mom had late onset (after age 65) cognitive dysfunction, maybe Alzheimer’s. Most late onset cognitive dysfunction is a combination of vascular dementia (not enough blood flow), brain inflammation, and other factors. Researchers have not found a specific gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease in a very high percentage of cases and think it arises from a combination of factors.

A new study in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry has identified nine risky conditions for Alzheimer’s (all modifiable—great news!) and several ways to protect yourself from developing the disease (great news, again!).

The modifiable risk factors are:

  • obesity;
  • current smoking (in this study they saw the risk in people of Asian descent—we feel pretty sure it applies to most folks);
  • carotid artery narrowing (that’s plaque in arteries on each side of your neck leading to the brain);
  • type 2 diabetes (again, in people of Asian descent—though it would seem possible that this inflammatory condition ups everyone’s risk);
  • low educational attainment;
  • high levels of homocysteine (that’s a marker of inflammation);
  • depression;
  • high blood pressure; and
  • frailty

Fortunately, we know getting 30-60 minutes of physical activity a day and 30 minutes of strength building exercise 2-3 days a week, ditching the Five Food Felons (assiduously avoiding foods with added sugars, syrups, simple carbs, trans fats, and saturated fats), sleeping 7-8 hours a night, de-stressing with routine meditation every morning and night, and enjoying friends and family can help banish those brain-bashing risk factors.

If you and your kids embrace smart nutrition, physical activity, and stress reduction, don’t smoke, and follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding managing your blood pressure, then you’ll be following the blueprint for brain health and a long and happy life.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to send questions—to youdocs@gmail.com, and some of them we may know enough to answer (we’ll try to get answers for you if we do not know).

Young Dr Mike Roizen (aka, The Enforcer)

 NOTE: You should NOT take this as medical advice.

This article is of the opinion of its author.

Before you do anything, please consult with your doctor.

 

You can follow Dr Roizen on twitter @YoungDrMike (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week). The YOU docs have tow newly revised books: The patron saint “book” of this column YOU Staying Young—revised and YOU: The Owner’s Manual…revised —yes a revision of the book that started Dr Oz to being Dr Oz. These makes great gifts—so do YOU: ON a Diet and YOU: The Owner’s Manual for teens. And, the new book by Dr Mike Roizen: This is YOUR Do-Over

Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. His radio show streams live on http://www.radioMD.com Saturdays from 5-7 p.m. He is the co-author of 4 #1 NY Times Best Sellers including: YOU Staying Young.

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