Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

The reason why I decided to write about this is to help families that may have someone with Alzheimer’s Disease. Like in my family – I have my grandma, who for years was misdiagnosed for Alzheimer and finally when she got really bad the doctors assumed that she has the disease – and now could be too late. So, I decided to write to guide families through this situation.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

This disease in among the top ten diseases that kill Americans and is the only one without an effective medical solution. The drugs available for this disease even doctors are not satisfied with them (and the side-effects are horrible). I personally don’t think any drug can really provide anything good, since they just suppress the symptoms and never cure the root cause of the problem.

This is a very serious disease that the patients can lose their memory and their ability to think(1). As they get worst their nerves get also affected and become dysfunctional –  patients may lose their ability to walk (1). These changes are due to loss of connections between nerve cells that are responsible for thinking. Although some drugs may temporarily improve memory, they do not stop or reverse the nerve degeneration.  (4)

But we can lower our risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease through diet, nutrition and exercise. The same approach that helps reduce risk can also be used for treatment (I am not saying that it will cure the patient but it may improve her health in general). This disease is very hard to be diagnosed but if it is noticed in the beginning  the patient has better changes to improve.

Alzheimer’s disease affects nearly half of North Americans by age 85. The American Academy of Neurology forecasts that, unless preventive measures are developed, Alzheimer’s rates will nearly triple over the next four decades. Worldwide, Alzheimer’s rates will affect 100 million people by 2050. (2)

In 2006, diabetes was the leading number 6 cause of death. But in 2007, Alzheimer’s disease became the number six cause of death. Once, diagnosed with this disease the average remaining is about 7 years and the cost of caring for Alzheimer’s patient may be higher than the cost of treating heart disease and cancer COMBINED! (4)

Since treatments for the disease remain unsatisfactory, scientific studies suggest that implementing preventive strategies are recommended. Evidence suggests that specific diet and exercise habits can reduce the risk by half or more (4).

A healthy approach to prevent Alzheimer’s disease:

1. Eliminate your intake of saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fat is found primarily in animal products like dairy products, egg, meats, and certain oils (coconut and palm oils). Trans fats are found in many snack pastries and fried foods and are listed on labels as “partially hydrogenated oils.” I’d would say this is one of the most important tip because clogged arteries from dietary animal fats reduce blood flow to the brain.

2. Vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, and whole grains should be the primary staples of the diet. Note that there are many doctors linking Alzheimer’s disease to gluten consumption, so I personally recommend the gluten free grains (3). A diet low in antioxidants also increase nerve cell death by excessive oxidation of their membranes. So, increasing fruits and vegetables are really good and will provide a lot of antioxidants.

3. One ounce of nuts or seeds (one small handful) daily provides a healthful source of vitamin E.

4. A reliable source of vitamin B12, such as fortified foods or a supplement providing at least the recommended daily allowance (2.4 mcg per day for adults) should be part of your daily diet. A diet low in vitamin B12 and folate increases the production of amyloid plaques – one of the key indicators of Alzheimer’s disease is the presence of these amyloid plaques – They are like fuzzy balls that get stuck in the brain, while a few won’t bother because we have hundred billion nerve cells and a hundred trillion connections, but if these plaques start building up too much then they start interrupting the nerve transmission. Then these amyloid plaques cause irritation and eventual destruction of the nerve cells in the brain.

5. When selecting multiple vitamins, choose those without iron and copper, and consume iron supplements only when directed by your physician.

6. While aluminum’s role in Alzheimer’s disease remains a matter of investigation, it is prudent to avoid the use of cookware, antacids, baking powder, or other products that contribute dietary aluminum.

7. Include aerobic exercise in your routine, equivalent to 40 minutes of brisk walking three times per week. (2)

So, if you know anyone that are experiencing some of the Alzheimer’s disease symptoms I’d recommend you to follow this Healthy approach to prevent this disease as soon as you can. Don’t wait to years pass by until the doctor says yes he/she has Alzheimer’s disease.

References:

(1)www.alzheimers.org.uk

(2) PCRM

(3) http://glutendoctors.blogspot.com/2012/04/dementia-is-skyrocketing-does-gluten.html

(4) A Nutritional approach to Alzheimer’s disease (by Dr. Steve Blake, ScD)

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