Today, 6/6/2019, Dr. Oz tells us there is a test we can actually do to see if our chances of getting Alzheimer’s are high. New York-Presbyterian neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson explains the potential link between high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease begins at the synapse, space where neurons connect. The biggest bad guy in this disease is a sticky protein called beta-amyloid. Either too much is made or not enough is cleared away, and as beta-amyloid accumulates, it creates a gooey clog in the synapse, preventing the neurons that meet there from communicating. As a result, the information those neurons carry can’t be transmitted or retrieved. The beta-amyloid “goo” prevents these two neurons from “talking” to each other. We notice this molecular event because we forget something. When too much beta-amyloid causes the synapse to fail, we begin to see the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. There are many risk factors that can contribute to having too much beta-amyloid.
Your brain is your body’s most important organ. A healthy brain is big, spongy and weighs about 3 pounds. Alzheimer’s disease changes that, literally shrinking and crippling the brain. Breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s prevention now make it possible to treat Alzheimer’s before it develops into a full-blown disease. Certain people are at greater risk.
Take this quiz and learn the risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
- First, take your blood pressure. Do you have high blood pressure?
- Do you exercise?
- Do you have diabetes?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you have cardiovascular disease?
- Does your family have a history of the disease?
- Have you ever had head trauma?
Dr. Isaacson, explains how changing your diet can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, even if you have a genetic predisposition for the disease.
- Isaacson recommends intermittent fasting, which not only helps with weight loss but also gives your brain the opportunity to rest. The general recommendation is to eat no more than 2,100 calories per day but consult with a registered dietitian or your doctor before changing your diet. Intermittent fasting, especially fasting between dinner and breakfast, may reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s by up to 50 percent.
- A new study from Singapore links tea drinking with a lower risk of developing a cognitive disorder such as dementia. Individuals with a genetic risk for Alzheimer’s had an even lower risk, up to 86 percent less. Get the benefits by drinking any tea brewed from tea leaves, such as black, green, or oolong. The antioxidant compounds in tea may help protect the brain from neurodegeneration and vascular damage.
- Eat eggs. This breakfast staple, especially the yellow yolk, is full of the nutrients you need for a healthy brain. A recent Finnish study showed that eating eggs won’t increase your chances of developing dementia and may even improve some markers of cognitive function.
- Eat Fatty Fish. Omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, are vital for healthy brain function and even for brain structure. Studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may also benefit those with the highest genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Our bodies do not independently produce sufficient omega-3 fatty acids efficiently so the best way to get a daily dose is to eat foods high in omega-3s. These healthy fats are found in fatty fish from cold waters, such as anchovies, herring, salmon, and whitefish.
- Blueberries. Like tea, blueberries are rich in antioxidants and studies have shown that they may help slow cognitive decline by up to 2 1/2 years in women. Another study showed that participants who added freeze-dried blueberry powder to their diet (equivalent to one cup of blueberries) at least once a day for 16 weeks saw improved brain function and cognitive performance, including improved memory.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, but understanding these risk factors offers us some good news. While we can’t do anything about getting older or the genes we’ve inherited from our parents, eating smart, keeping cholesterol levels and blood sugar low, exercising, wearing a helmet when bicycling or skiing, and wearing a seat belt in the car are among the things we can do to keep the arm of the Alzheimer’s scale from tipping to the ground.
Photo courtesy of Bing via healthline.com