According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. One in eight older Americans has Alzheimer’s.
The Alzheimer’s Association strongly advises that if you notice any of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s in yourself or someone you know, don’t ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Early detection of the disease is vital in order to get the maximum benefit from available treatments.
Not only can you explore treatments that may provide some relief of symptoms and help you maintain a level of independence longer, early detection increases the chance of participating in clinical drug trials.
There is no single test that can determine conclusively whether a person has Alzheimer’s. Diagnosing Alzheimer’s requires medical evaluation and a series of tests, including:
* A thorough medical history
* Mental status testing
* A physical and neurological exam
* Tests (such as blood tests and brain imaging) to rule out other causes of dementia-like symptoms.
Having trouble with memory does not mean you have Alzheimer’s because several other health issues can cause problems with memory and clear thinking.
“When dementia-like symptoms are caused by treatable conditions — such as depression, drug interactions, thyroid problems, excess use of alcohol or certain vitamin deficiencies — they may be reversed.”
Although age and genetics are major risk factors, physician nutrition specialist, Dr. Melina Jampolis, claims emerging research suggests lifestyle factors including diet and exercise can also play an important role in prevention.
As FriendsEAT co-founder Blanca Valbuena astutely points out, “If we have foods for the heart, we should also acknowledge the presence of foods for the brain.
Dr. Jampolis comments that eating a heart healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet is essential, as brain health and heart health are very closely related.
Here are a few other things Dr. Jampolis believes we should consider:
Increase intake of Vitamin E
Blanca mentioned this but it’s worth repeating. Vitamin E is a very potent anti-oxidant and appears to play a role in staving off Alzheimer’s. Research shows that those with the highest amounts in their diet (from food, not supplements), have a significantly lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Top food sources for vitamin E include sunflower and safflower oil, nuts and seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, hazelnuts) and green vegetables including broccoli and spinach. Make sure to consume green vegetables with a little healthy fat to maximize the absorption of vitamin E.
Go for fish
Getting adequate amounts of poly-unsaturated omega 3 fatty acids found in fish is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is present in larger amounts in the brain, appears to be particularly important.
Spice things up
India has a much lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, and many researchers believe it may be due in part to their extensive use of turmeric (a component of curry) in their cooking.
Turmeric contains a powerful phytonutrient called curcumin which may help protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease in several ways. Research is currently underway to determine the optimal intake (very little taken by mouth actually gets to the brain) but consuming curry regularly along with a little healthy fat may help and certainly can’t hurt.
Alzheimer’s Linked To Brain’s Impaired Response to Insulin
The Guardian’s George Monbiot claims many scientists now believe Alzheimer’s is caused largely by the brain’s impaired response to insulin. Insulin regulates storage of glycogen in the liver and accelerates oxidation of sugar in cells.
Monbiot adds that the association between Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes is long-established, and that type 2 sufferers are two to three times more likely to be struck by this form of dementia than the general population.
Researchers proposed Alzheimer’s was another form of diabetes as far back as 2005.
“The authors of the original paper investigated the brains of 54 corpses, 28 of which belonged to people who had died of the disease.
“They found that the levels of both insulin and insulin-like growth factors in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients were much lower than those in the brains of people who had died of other causes. Levels were lowest in the parts of the brain most affected by the disease.”