A Answers (18)
Mehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answeredPing pong has the potential to prevent Alzheimer's disease. Learn more about this topic in this video with Dr. Oz.
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I visited with Dr. Robert Gilbert, a neurologist at Piedmont Hospital, to discuss this debilitating disease. According to Dr. Gilbert, Alzheimer’s is an increasingly recognized disease because of the aging population; therefore we’ll see more and more cases. Currently there isn’t a set diagnostic test to determine Alzheimer’s, but most doctors use MRI testing to see if there are markers that indicate a possible diagnosis. Dr. Gilbert states, “Unfortunately, by the time you see changes of atrophy in the temporal lobe (via MRI) the patient already has signs, so it’s helpful to exclude other causes.” If a patient has signs of memory loss, Dr. Gilbert says he usually sends them for further neurological testing to look at possible causes.
Dr. Gilbert says, “There are certain things one can do to reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s, but we know there are genetic links – that’s something we can test, to some degree, but it’s not valid clinically yet.”
Alluding to a study out recently, Dr. Gilbert explains seven things people can do in their everyday activities to significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The most important is increasing physical activity. The study also found depression, obesity and diabetes all increase the risk.
Keeping the mind active also lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Gilbert says, “We’ve known for a long time that higher functioning, smarter patients – ones that have gone through higher levels of education or stayed mentally active – seem to not have as much presentation with Alzheimer’s.”
Dr. Gilbert says that data shows that patients can reduce or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by 10-20% with lifestyle changes. He says there is a link between lifestyle habits and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but no one knows the true cause of the disease yet.
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI) answeredThere is no known way to completely prevent Alzheimer's disease; however, some research has shown that controlling your cholesterol and blood pressure may reduce your risk. Exercising regularly and staying mentally active have shown promising results as well. Simply doing a crossword puzzle a few days a week or reading a book every once in a while may help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's. There is also a link between alcohol's ability to maintain good circulation and stimulate memory that suggests, with moderation, it may be effective in preventing Alzheimer's.
There is no one strategy that can guarantee the prevention of Alzheimer's disease. However, healthy lifestyle behaviors may confer a slowing of the progression of memory loss, which could actually prevent you from developing full-blown symptoms or symptoms that are very severe.
So far, evidence supports at least two healthy lifestyle factors for reducing your risk for dementia. Those factors are exercise and the adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet. With exercise, you want to try adhere to the American Heart Association guidelines, which recommend a total of 30 minutes, five days a week or more (150 minutes a week) of moderate-intensity activity or aerobic activity that gets your heart pumping and your blood circulating. You should also add 2 days a week or more of strength training.
You can't prevent Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is actually a disease of the brain that involves a "tangling" of the nerves in the brain. There is no known cause. You can see these changes on pathologic slides of brain tissue of those who have died who had Alzheimer's. There does seem to be a family tendency for the disease, but just because someone has Alzheimer's in your family does not mean there is much of a risk that you will get it. There have been some associations, like longstanding hypertension and even aluminum exposure, that may have something to do with Alzheimer's, but nothing has been proved yet. Aerobic exercise and mental exercises have been shown to make a person cope with Alzheimer's better.
Healthy aging: Some of the most recent research indicates that taking steps to improve cardiovascular (heart) health, such as losing weight, exercising, and controlling hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol, may also help prevent Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Several clinical studies have reported that the NSAIDs ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®), naproxen sodium (Aleve®), and indomethacin (Indocin®, a prescription drug) may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's. This may be because inflammation appears to play a role in Alzheimer's. Because NSAIDs can cause stomach and intestinal bleeding and kidney problems, clinical trials need to be completed before it's clear whether individuals should take NSAIDs solely to prevent Alzheimer's.
Statins: Statin drugs are used to lower cholesterol levels. They include atorvastatin (Lipitor®) and simvastatin (Zocor®). Recent studies have reported that "statin" drugs may reduce the risk of AD. More studies are being done to determine exactly what role, if any, statins may have in Alzheimer's prevention. Researchers believe that statins help improve blood flow to the brain by decreasing particles in the blood such as cholesterol and triglycerides.
Selective estrogen receptor molecules (SERMs): A drug called a selective estrogen receptor molecule (SERM, including raloxifene or Evista®) is used to protect against the bone loss associated with osteoporosis. It also appears to lower the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, a memory disorder that often precedes Alzheimer's. The mechanism is not known.
Mental fitness: Maintaining mental fitness may delay onset of dementia. Some researchers believe that lifelong mental exercise and learning may promote the growth of additional synapses, the connections between neurons, and delay the onset of dementia. Other researchers argue that advanced education gives a person more experience with the types of memory and thinking tests used to measure dementia. Doing crossword puzzles, reading books, and increasing social activities are recommended by healthcare providers.
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It is hard to define preventive measures for Alzheimer’s disease because we still do not know the exact cause of Alzheimer’s. Researchers continue to search for the precise causes of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. In addition, because Alzheimer’s is a disease that progresses slowly, even if researchers did find a preventive measure, it would take years (if not decades) to prove its effectiveness.
However, doctors have identified certain factors that may be helpful in preventing dementia. While we cannot say definitively that these measures will prevent Alzheimer’s, they have other proven benefits for heart health and general well-being.
These preventive measures include:
- Regular physical exercise
- Engaging in mental and leisure activities
- Maintaining heart health (monitoring blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol)
- Not smoking
- Avoiding head trauma
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
David L. Katz, MD,MPH, Integrative Medicine, answeredBy and large, Alzheimer’s is a vascular disease. By and large, the practices that prevent cardiovascular disease -- eating well, being active, avoiding tobacco -- slash the risk of Alzheimer’s. Studies that have shown an elimination of up to 80% of all chronic disease with the application of lifestyle as medicine have not carved out an exception for Alzheimer’s. The evidence that we can alter gene expression with the power of lifestyle almost certainly pertains to Alzheimer’s as it does to cancer. By minding our bodies, we can mind our minds, too. We can best mind both by minding the short list of what matters most to health.
So, see a doctor regularly to have your blood pressure and cholesterol monitored. High cholesterol can contribute to dementia by accelerating the development of atherosclerosis; controlling blood lipid levels with diet or medication can protect against this. High blood pressure can damage the blood supply to the brain in several ways and is the leading risk factor for stroke. At least one European study suggests that treatment of high blood pressure all by itself can cut dementia risk in half.
There is some evidence to support what most of us have heard about “brain foods.” Fish consumption appears to protect brain function, most likely by contributing omega-3 fatty acids to the diet. An omega-3 oil supplement, 1 to 2 grams daily, is an alternative. Antioxidants in food appear to be protective as well, contributing to the reputations of blueberries, red wine, and green tea.
The evidence is much stronger for the importance of the overall dietary pattern. Eating well is as important to the brain as it is to the heart. Lower your risk of Alzheimer’s with plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans and lentils, olives and avocado, nuts and seeds. Limit consumption of highly processed foods, fast foods, sugar, salt, saturated and trans fat. Physical activity, too, nurtures the health of body and mind alike. Finally, population studies suggest that those who exercise their brains protect their minds from dementia. Crossword puzzles and Sudoku are aerobics for your brain.
There is no question we need the government and big pharma and the biomedical community at large to wage the battle of treatment on our behalf. But prevention is the greater prize and is largely already within our grasp. Mind your mind and mind your body with the zeal and diligence you routinely apply to minding your own business. Because they are.
Sarah LoBisco, Integrative Medicine, answered
Currently, there is not conventional treatment for Alzheimer's. Rather, the focus is on managing the symptoms and preventing further deterioration of the brain.
Various factors have been linked to Alzheimer's risk including genetics, circulatory disorders, blood sugar imbalances, and chronic systemic inflammation.
The good news is the functional practitioner can look at the individual and view their specific triggers, genetic predispositions, and contributing factors to dementia. This means that by assessing each individual systemically, we can act to prevent damage to the brain down the road! In fact, Alzheimer's biological markers now are shown to be present 20 years prior to memory symptoms!
A good functional practitioner will assess many individual factors including the following to keep optimal brain function:
History of toxicant exposure and genetic weaknesses in removing these neurotoxins. The functional practitioner will then support pathways to assist and protect the body from these exposures.
Contributors to inflammation which include the following:
- Digestive imbalances
- Food sensitivities and dietary triggers
- Allergies and immune imbalances
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Stress and hormonal issues
- Sleep disorders
- Nutrient deficiencies
- By correcting all of these factors, the brain will be protected.
Exercise and movement.
- Exercise has been shown to increase brain functioning and various brain exercises increase memory and cognitive skills.
Judith London, MD, Psychology, answered
At the present time, Alzheimer's cannot be prevented but there are things one can do to reduce the risk or delay the onset.
- Aerobic exercise is the most effective way to reduce risk, increase brain volume and improve memory functioning. Walking 30 minutes/day, 5 days a week can do this.
- Eat nutritiously including lots of whole grains, fruit, vegetables, low fat dairy, low fat meat, plenty of salmon and fish.
- Keep on socializing.
- Learn something new to stimulate those baby brain cells that are born every day.
- Take care of your teeth to minimize inflammation.
- Protect your head from injury.
- Lower stress.
- Improve sleep.
- Have fun!
Joe Mercola, DO, Integrative Medicine, answered
NOW is the time to start taking action to preserve your brain function. I believe my detailed guide below will offer you a comprehensive strategy.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels through safe sun exposure, a safe tanning bed and/or vitamin D supplements.
- Eat a nutritious diet with plenty of raw fresh vegetables based on your nutritional type, and pay special attention to avoiding sugar.
- Eat plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats in the form of krill oil. Fifty percent of your brain is an omega-3 fat called DHA. My favorite source of this is krill oil because it is so highly absorbed you need far less of it than fish oil. Additionally, it is loaded with beneficial antioxidants and is clearly the most sustainable source of animal-based omega-3 on the planet.
- Avoid toxins, especially mercury, aluminum and fluoride. Dental amalgam fillings are one of the major sources of mercury, however you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a qualified biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.
Fluoride, meanwhile, is another powerful neurotoxin. The most common sources would be in your water and toothpaste.
- Keep fasting insulin levels below three. There is no question that insulin resistance is one of the most pervasive influences on brain damage, as it contributes massively to inflammation, which will prematurely degenerate your brain.
- Exercise regularly. According to one study, the odds of developing Alzheimer's were nearly quadrupled in people who were less active during their leisure time, between the ages of 20 and 60, compared with their peers.
- Eliminate all processed foods and sugars. 95% of the food we eat is processed. We need to get back to regularly preparing our food at home to preserve the natural nutrition that is in the food to begin with and to help us eat more raw foods.
- Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, such as traveling, learning to play an instrument or doing crossword puzzles, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer's. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Joane Goodroe, Nursing, answered
A new study shows that regular exercise may offer some protection against Alzheimer’s. Two studies on people in three states measured the effects of exercise on brain function over five years. Eric Larson, and Executive Director of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle stated, “It’s very likely that regular physical activity improves the ability for blood to circulate to the brain and oxygen to get to the brain. If you have healthy blood vessels, you’re very likely to be able to withstand the stress on very sensitive parts of the brain like the hippocampus.” He suggests people exercise regularly. “Even people who are demented can benefit by regular exercise.”
The studies, in Archives of Internal Medicine, were supported by the National Institutes of Health. http://www.hhs.gov/news/healthbeat/2011/09/20110914a.html
At this time, there is no known way to prevent Alzheimer's disease. But there are things that may make it less likely.
Adults who are physically active may be less likely than adults who aren't physically active to get Alzheimer's disease or Reading, playing cards and other games, working crossword puzzles and even watching television or listening to the radio may help them avoid symptoms of the disease. So can going out and remaining as socially active as possible. Although this "use it or lose it" approach hasn't been proved, no harm can come from regularly putting the brain to work.
People who eat more fruits and vegetables, high-fiber foods, fish and omega-3 rich oils (sometimes known as the Mediterranean diet) and who eat less red meat and dairy may have some protection against dementia.
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. To learn more visit Healthwise.org
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Gayatri Devi, MD, Neurology, answeredThe best way to prevent Alzheimer's is to have a healthy lifestyle; exercise, a heart-healthy diet, and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol down. Watch as neurologist Gayatri Devi, MD, discusses ways you can help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's.
Control of blood pressure, control of blood cholesterol, control of body weight, control of blood sugar, and regular exercise of 30 minutes in duration, at least 3 times each week, form the basis for the best known strategies for delaying or preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Rudy Tanzi, Neurology, answered
Researchers believe that Alzheimer's disease occurs as the result of a genetic predisposition combined with environmental factors. In this video, Dr. Rudy Tanzi shares his views on how it can be prevented.
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital answered
The cause of Alzheimer's disease is unknown, so there are no proven prevention guidelines to follow at this time. Researchers are working to define risk factors for the disease and studying substances that have the potential to reduce the risk. One recent new study, for example, suggests that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications may lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease. The finding appears to confirm that inflammation plays a role in the disease. Further study is needed to identify whether any of these medications can safely prevent the onset of Alzheimer's.
Robin Miller, MD, Integrative Medicine, answeredAlzheimer's disease is a devastating degenerative condition. In this video, Dr. Robin Miller reveals what over-the-counter medication can stave off Alzheimer's.