Alzheimer's disease leads to uncertainty and concerns. If you have a close relative who has or had it, you might feel particularly threatened considering the unavoidable factor, heredity. But what are really the risk factors? Am I going to suffer like other family member suffers or suffered? Can it be prevented?
Family history and genetics
The risk of developing Alzheimer's appears to be somewhat higher if a first-degree relative — parent or sibling — has the disease.
Scientists have identified mutations in genes that virtually guarantee a person who inherits them will develop Alzheimer's. But these mutations account for less than 5 percent of Alzheimer's disease.
Indeed, it is generally accepted that ageing, gender and environmental risk factors play a more dominant role in the progression of the disease.
The greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s is advancing age. For example, while one of nine people age 65 or older has Alzheimer's, nearly one of three people age 85 or older has the disease.
Women may be more likely than are men to develop Alzheimer's disease, in part because they live longer (see age)
Past head trauma
People who've had a severe head trauma or repeated head trauma appear to have a greater risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Mild cognitive impairment
People with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have memory problems or other symptoms of cognitive decline that are worse than might be expected for their age, but not severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia. Those with MCI have an increased risk — but not a certainty — of later developing dementia.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle could compensate for memory loss and cognitive decline
Lifelong learning and social engagement
Studies have found an association between lifelong involvement in mentally and socially stimulating activities and reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Lifestyle and heart health
There's no lifestyle factor that's been conclusively shown to reduce the risk factor. However, some evidence suggests that the same factors that put you at risk of heart disease also may contribute to cognitive decline.
There is increasing evidence that training such as aerobic, power and balance/coordination exercises provides important health benefits.
Physical activity is a valuable part of any overall body wellness plan and is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline and other conditions.
Adherence to a Mediterranean diet
A recent meta-analysis on 133,626 people within 3 prospective cohort studies also showed that closer adherence to a Mediterranean diet led to a 13% lower incidence of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer disease.
The traditional Mediterranean diet is characterised by an abundance of bioactive phytonutrients, rich in Vitamins B6, B12, folate, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential, derived from extra virgin olive oil as the main added fat, fresh fruits and leafy vegetables, legumes, wholegrain cereals, nuts and seeds, fish and red wine, with moderate portions of meat and dairy. This diet helps to reduce inflammation.
During the last two decades, accumulating evidence suggests a pivotal role for neuroinflammatory processes in the cognitive decline.
Numerous epidemiological studies support that the long-term use of non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (Intermittent low dose NSAID use 2 years prior ) is preventive against Alzeimer Disease, but these medications do not slow down the progression of the disease in already diagnosed patients.
Extensive research has accumulated data over the last few decades on the anti-inflammatory properties of naturally occurring substances like curcumin, catechins (from green tea), several fatty acids (EPA and DHA), and polyphenols (anthocyanins) for example found in blueberries.
Diet high in Omega-3 DHA
Normal physiological changes to the brain with ageing include depletion of long chain omega-3 fatty acids such as the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA reduction could lead to problems beyond membrane integrity by impairing normal signalling.
A systemic review of literature addressing the effects of fish consumption or omega-3 PUFA (Poly unsaturated Fatty Acids) supplementation on cognitive decline found that in patients without Alzheimer Disease, omega-3 fatty acids may yield positive effects on cognitive decline.
Highly Bioavailable Longvida Curcumin
Curcumin is known as a potent anti inflammatory compound. It has been shown that curcumin is not well absorbed in the body. However, optimised formulations of lipidated curcumin reached brain concentrations.
In a clinical trial, Longvida curcumin, the patented formulation of Optim Curcuma, was found to reduce the recirculating beta amyloid in the blood of healthy patients taking 400mg/day during one month. It was also demonstrated in another clinical trial that this formulation can help to improve working memory.
Recently, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has initiated a clinical trial that will investigate the benefits of a therapy combining the daily intake of Longvida curcumin and the regular practice of yoga in patients showing signs of mild-cognitive impairment.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle and an anti-inflammatory diet, such as the Mediterranean diet can help to reduce the risk factors of cognitive decline.
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