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What Prevents Alzheimer’s?

 


The answer is still “we don’t know,” but we’re getting closer.

Alzheimer’s is not normal in the course of aging, and it’s more
than “a decline in memory.” People suffering from Alzheimer’s,
through progressive destruction of brain cells, lose the ability
to think, reason, learn and communicate, and also undergo
personality changes. For the ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s go
here: http://www.alz.org/AboutAD/10Signs.htm . Alzheimer’s is
eventually fatal because the person cannot move or swallow.

Although around 12 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s,
and 4-4.5 million in the US, research in this field is still new
and not enough is known about either prevention or cure. Much of
the research “suggests” but is not conclusive.

RISK FACTORS

The biggest risk factor is aging, with about 50% of people over
85 years of age having Alzlheimer’s in the US. According to some
sources, there’s evidence it has the same risk factors as for
heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and
elevated homocysteine, a protein building block. In an article
called “Homocysteine is a Strong Risk factor for Alzheimer’s
Disease,” (New England Journal of Medicine, 2002 Feb 14;
346:476-483), researchers concluded that “an increased
homocysteine level is a strong, independent risk factor for the
development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”

VITAMIN E

According to research done by Martha Clare Morris, ScD,
Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and the Rush Institute
for Healthy Aging, Chicago, Illinois, lots of vitamin E through
food intake, not supplements is helpful. ( www.medscape.com)
while another study
(http://www.docguide.com/news/content.nsf/news/8525697700573E1885
256C00004A766D ) suggests that both food intake and supplements
of vitamin E is helpful.

Foods high in vitamin E are wheat germ, almonds, vegetable oils,
margarine, and seeds (especially sunflower seeds).

1 T. of wheat germ provides 34.6 mg. of vitamin E, ½ cup of
chocolate covered almonds, 14.3 mg., 1 T. corn oil, 11-14 mg., 1
T. soybean oil, 8.8-14 mg. According to the Almond Board of
California, just one ounce of almonds provides more than 35% of
the daily value of vitamin E.

FAT

According to studies reported in www.medscape.com, high intake
of saturated fat doubles the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and
moderate intake of trans fat increases the risk by 2-3 times.
Lower risk is associated with high intake of both
polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. However there have
been inconsistent findings, with another study finding no
influence from high ingestion of polyunsaturated fats.

FISH AND n-3 FATTY ACIDS

There is some evidence that dietary intake of fish and n-3 fatty
acids can protect against Alzheimer’s but again, no causal
association has been established.

Assuming that vitamin E and n-3 fatty acids and unhydrogenated,
unsaturated fats help, your best bet would be to eat plenty of
oil-based salad dressings, nuts, seeds, fish, mayonnaise, and
eggs.

CURRY

If you love curry like I do, this information will be welcome.
One of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s appears in Indian
villages, with only 1% of people 65 and older having the
condition.

A recent study suggests that the reason might be a diet high in
curcumin, a compound found in turmeric which is used in curry,
which has long been used as an herbal treatment in that country.
Researchers investigating this link will also be looking at
rosemary and ginger, also high in the Indian diet, because their
structure is similar to curcumin. [Source: “The Curry Spice
Curcumin Reduces Oxidative Damage and Amyloid Pathology in an
Alzheimer Transgenic Mouse,” Lim, Chuet al.]

TESTOSTERONE

Another link in the chain may be testosterone levels. Dr. Sozos
Ch. Papasozomenos and Dr. Alikunju Shanavas, from the University
of Texas-Houston Medical School conclude from their studies that
“testosterone given alone to aging men and given combined with
17-beta-estradiol to postmenopausal women would probably prove
beneficial in preventing and/or treating Alzheimer’s disease.”
[Reported in the proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences.] However, the case for hormones for postmenopausal
women is far from settled and not at all clear.

LITHIUM

Another possibility is lithium. This long-standing treatment for
bipolar disorder has worked as a preventative with mice, and may
be useful for humans, though the side-effects are high, and it
doesn’t help people who already have Alzheimer’s. [Source:
Nature, 2003]

WEIGHT, WOMEN & ALZHEIMER’S

Researchers have also found a strong relationship in women
between being overweight at age 70 and developing Alzheimer’s
10-18 years later, although being overweight doesn’t appear to
effect men and Alzheimer’s.
(http://www.stopgettingsick.com/Conditions/condition_template.cfm
/6880/24/1 )

USE IT OR LOSE IT

Studies also suggest that keeping mentally active can ward off
Alzheimer’s [New England Journal of Medicine]. Oddly physical
activity had no positive preventive effect except in the case of
dancing. Researchers speculated that could be because music
engages the mind. (http://www.stopgettingsick.com/Conditions/condition_template.cfm/
6817/24/1 )

These are just a few of the latest “suggestions.” So little is
known for sure, and we hope research continues. In the meantime,
we do hear the same things over and over – good diet, exercise,
and staying mentally active.

 

 

Resource: The Alzheimer’s Association, http://www.alz.org

For medical advice, consult your personal healthcare
professional.

About the author:
©Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc . I offer
coaching, distance learning courses, and ebooks around emotional
intelligence. Free ezine, Mailto:[email protected] Daily tips,
send blank email to [email protected] . I train and
certify EQ coaches. Start tomorrow, no residence requirement,
global student body. Email for prospectus.


 

 

 

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