Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain that leads to dementia. On a cellular level, Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the finding of unusual helical protein filaments in nerve cells of the brain. These twisted filaments are called neurofibrillary tangles. In the brain, Alzheimer’s disease involves degeneration of the cortical regions, especially the frontal and temporal lobes.
Unfortunately, there currently is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but people can help prevent it by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and staying socially active and mentally engaged. All of the data from the U.S. along with health statistics from across the globe support this notion. On the flip side, the ironic thing is that most of the medical community says there is absolutely no way to help prevent this disease. This is yet another prime example of the medical community not properly educating their patients on how Alzheimer’s can be prevented. The United States actually leads the world in several health care statistics which include diseases, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s just to name a few. A staggering 72% of the U.S. population is obese or overweight and the U.S. is ranked 32nd in overall health in the world. This is a sad report card on the medical community along with the U.S. government. It actually shouldn’t be a big surprise since our government can’t even put together an affordable health care act.
If you are trying to fix the problem wouldn’t you want to identify the true reason for it? The reason health care is not affordable is because of the poor overall health of Americans. It costs an enormous amount of medical dollars (3.4 trillion a year) to treat many issues that are occurring as a result of a lack of visibility and health awareness. It’s not getting any better for even our children since we rank #1 in the world in childhood obesity. Clearly, the medical community is not educating their patients about proper health and fitness with 72% of the population being overweight.
Why is this happening? The overall public is kept in the dark about major health issues and trends. Maybe our government leaders don’t speak out because they are being influenced by special interest groups like the medical community, Big Pharma and the food industry. You would think this type of information would make for headline news each night. That won’t happen because the media outlets do not want to lose the lucrative advertising business with these huge corporations. These groups clearly need to be held accountable in addressing the epidemic of poor health in the United States.
We have a huge health problem in the United States. Just look at the differences from country to country. Look at the Alzheimer’s rate based on cases reported per 100,000 people. I’m not okay with the U.S. being the worst large nation in the world being inflicted by this horrible disease. If genes were the main issue would the world be more balanced? There’s no doubt that Americans have some serious lifestyle, health and fitness issues that need to be addressed immediately. Fellow Americans, our political leaders and the medical community along with the media outlets need to get involved!
Alzheimer’s Disease Facts
- 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s and by the year 2050 nearly 16 million people could be affected.
- Annual cost for Alzheimer’s is currently 605 billion dollars each year and by 2050 that number alone could be 2 trillion dollars!
- Annual health care costs to care for someone with Alzheimer’s is $48,000 and goes up $75,000 if the patient is in a facility.
- 1-8 baby boomers can expect to get Alzheimer’s.
- Only 1-4 people with Alzheimer’s have been diagnosed, so the problem with this horrible disease could be much greater.
- 2 out of 3 people who get Alzheimer’s are women.
- African-Americans are twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s than Caucasians.
- Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely to get Alzheimer’s than Caucasians
- Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
According to the National institute of Health, there are some basic health risk factors used to predict and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. They say that there are no cures for Alzheimer’s but by preventing basic health issues noted below, one can greatly reduce the likelihood of getting this disease. Based on U.S. health statistics, most of the health issues Americans face are self-inflicted and caused by a lack of education and a sense of urgency regarding one’s health. The fact that 72% of the country is obese or overweight validates this claim. Also, when you compare U.S. health statistics with other healthier nations, we stand out like a sore thumb. We are never going to have affordable health care if Americans don’t take care of themselves. I believe many Americans create their own health issues by making bad lifestyle choices, not eating properly and not getting enough regular exercise. The National Institute of Health lists some basic health risk factors and guidelines which are helpful in both predicting and preventing this disease. Each of us has, for the most part, the ability to prevent these issues by making better lifestyle choices and by following a nutritious diet and becoming more active!
Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease
- Heart disease.
- High blood pressure.
- Obesity (this category impacts the 4 areas listed above).
- Alcohol abuse.
- Physical inactivity.
Did you know that 80% of Alzheimer’s patients have diabetes or heart issues? The good news is that many of these issues can be prevented with regular exercise and a balanced diet. The bottom line is the more of these controllable risk factors you have, the more likely you are to get Alzheimer’s. I’m not a medical doctor, but the odds of contracting this horrible disease is much greater than the 1 out of 8 baby boomers expected to get Alzheimer’s.
Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease
According to experts, a healthy diet can reduce the likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s by 38%. If you are part of the 72% of the U.S. citizens that are currently overweight, you can do something about it! Cut sugar out of your diet, eliminate eating processed foods and avoid fast food at all times. Eat lean protein like chicken, turkey and fish. Stick to whole grains when enjoying pasta and focus on clean carbohydrates like quinoa and brown rice. Eat 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Forget about all those starvation diets also! If you’re a heavy drinker then try to cut back on the alcohol since it slows down your metabolism and also affects your brain and hormones.
Healthy Eating Tips
- Cut Down on Sugar. Sugary foods and refined carbs such as white flour, white rice, and pasta can lead to dramatic spikes in blood sugar which inflame your brain. Watch out for hidden sugars in all kinds of packaged foods from cereals and bread to pasta sauce and low-fat or fat-free products.
- Eat a Mediterranean Diet. Several epidemiological studies have shown that eating a Mediterranean diet dramatically reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. That means plenty of vegetables, beans, whole grains, fish and olive oil while limiting processed foods.
- Avoid Trans-Fats. These fats can cause inflammation and produce free radicals, both of which are hard on the brain. Reduce your consumption by avoiding fast food, fried and packaged foods, and anything that contains “partially hydrogenated oils”, even if it claims to be free of trans-fats.
- Eat Plenty of Omega-3 Fats. Evidence suggests that the DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) found in these healthy fats may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by reducing beta-amyloid plaques. Food sources include coldwater fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, seaweed, and sardines. You can also supplement with fish oil.
- Eat Lots of Fruits and Vegetables. Stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, 5-7 servings per day is ideal and these foods can include green leafy vegetables, berries and green vegetables such as broccoli and beans.
- Eat at Home. By cooking at home you can ensure that you’re eating fresh, wholesome meals that are high in brain-healthy nutrients and low in sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, and additives.
Supplements That May Prevent Dementia
Folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin D, magnesium, and fish oil may help to preserve brain health. Studies of vitamin E, ginkgo biloba, coenzyme Q10, and turmeric have yielded less conclusive results, but may also be beneficial in preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms.
Exercise Alone May Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk Up To 50%
According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent! What’s even better is that exercise can also slow further deterioration in those people who have already started to develop cognitive problems. Exercise protects against Alzheimer’s by stimulating the brain’s ability to maintain old connections as well as make new ones.
Having a balanced workout utilizing cardiovascular exercise, core training and weightlifting are key in maintaining optimal health. Fitness stimulates the brain, speeds up the metabolism and helps develop lean muscle mass which helps prevent many other health issues besides Alzheimer’s. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. The ideal plan involves a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Good activities for beginners include walking and swimming. Here are the benefits of working out:
- Build Muscle to Pump Up Your Brain. Moderate levels of strength and resistance training not only increase muscle mass, but they also help you maintain brain health. For those over the age of 65, adding 2-3 strength training sessions to your weekly routine may cut your risk of Alzheimer’s in half.
- Include Balance and Coordination Exercises. Head injuries from falls are an increasing risk as you age, which in turn increases your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Balance and coordination exercises can help you stay agile and avoid falls. Try yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates or other exercises using balance balls or machines.
- Make Good Lifestyle Decisions. Keep alcohol consumption to reasonable amounts and don’t smoke.
Staying socially engaged may help prevent Alzheimer’s. Network with others and involve yourself in activities on a weekly basis. Here are some tips:
- Join fun and interesting clubs around your local area.
- Go out for a walk and meet your neighbors.
- Go to a movie or go shopping.
- Connect with others over social networking websites like Facebook.
- Learn to write. As a master trainer, top bodybuilder and health and fitness writer, I always try to challenge myself to learn new things which also benefits others around me. I’m only 3 short years from retiring! Like any other muscle in your body, the brain needs to be exercised. If you don’t use it, you increase the likelihood of losing it!
- Play games that make you think. Chess, checkers and crossword puzzles are great.
- Practice memorizing things since it will help to stimulate the brain.
Get Quality Sleep
The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation says it’s common for people with Alzheimer’s disease to suffer from insomnia and other sleep problems. New research suggests that disrupted sleep isn’t just a symptom of Alzheimer’s, but a possible risk factor. An increasing number of studies have linked poor sleep to higher levels of beta-amyloid, a sticky brain-clogging protein that in turn further interferes with sleep, especially with the deep sleep necessary for memory formation. Other studies emphasize the importance of uninterrupted sleep for flushing out brain toxins. Here are some tips:
- Minimize your daily stress since this causes were and tear on your brain and affects your body.
- Find new and exciting ways to have fun.
- Learn to laugh.
- Schedule relaxation activities each week.
Other Tips To Help Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Balanced Hormones. Have your blood tested regularly with your local doctor or an anti-aging clinic who specializes in optimal hormone balancing. There are some studies which note there may be a link in congestive brain decline with men and women who have sub-optimal testosterone and estrogen levels. Balanced hormones also help improve lean muscle mass, reduce body fat and increase energy levels. Balanced hormones also improve sleep and can increase your libido.
- Stop Smoking. Smoking is one of the most preventable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. One study found that smokers over the age of 65 have an almost 80% higher risk of getting Alzheimer’s than those who have never smoked. When you stop smoking, the brain benefits from improved circulation almost immediately!
- Control Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels. Both high blood pressure and high total cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Improving those numbers are good for your brain as well as your heart.
- Watch Your Weight. Extra pounds are a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. A major study found that people who were overweight in midlife were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s down the line, and those who were obese had three times the risk. Losing weight can go a long way to protecting your brain.
- Only Drink Alcohol in Moderation. While there appears to be brain benefits in consuming red wine in moderation, heavy alcohol consumption can dramatically raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and accelerate brain aging.
How To Slow Down The Progression of Alzheimer’s?
What can be done if someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in order to slow down the progression of the disease and to improve their quality of life? The answer is eating a balanced diet while being active and lowering the risk factors. I’d recommend the Mediterranean diet which helps keep the weight down and also has many benefits which are known to help stimulate the brain.
List of Healthy Foods To Eat
- Fresh Fruit. Consume 3 or 4 pieces of fresh fruit every day. These foods are very high in antioxidants and phytochemicals which are substances that protect our health.
- Veggies. Have a salad with your main meals. Use olive oil and lemon for dressing. This is a powerful antioxidant combination.
- Healthy Carbs. Have a piece of whole wheat or whole grain bread with your main meals (except with pasta).
- Healthy Proteins. Eat lean cuts of white meat, legumes or fish each day. Nutrition experts at Michigan State University say that eating 2 to 4 cups of cooked legumes every week can boost our heart health.
- Healthy Fats. Use olive oil in your meals, both to cook with and as a condiment with your salads. Olive oil is the primary source of fat in Mediterranean countries and could be the “cause” of the low incidence of heart problems in those countries.
- Herbs and Condiments. Use fresh herbs and condiments to reduce salt and sodium consumption. This is one of the best ways to lower blood pressure naturally.
Get Active and Exercise
Exercise stimulates the brain and the body. Numerous studies have indicated that regular exercise can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s. I want to heighten the awareness and knowledge and teach people how they can prevent serious health issues from occurring such as Alzheimer’s and other serious diseases. The good news is that most of these issues can be prevented by being proactive and making proper lifestyle choices, especially when it comes to eating a healthy diet and getting adequate exercise. The overall risk for getting horrible diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer and diabetes can be greatly reduced. If you are currently overweight or obese, you’re a medical time bomb waiting to detonate! Educate yourself on what you need to do to become fit and healthy. There are tons of valuable health tips and advice available on the Internet like right here on the ShapeFit.com website. Take a few moments and read some great articles written by health and fitness professionals and I guarantee that you’ll gain a lot of knowledge as well as being inspired by the weekly weight loss success stories that ShapeFit showcases!
Can Genes be a Factor in Getting Alzheimer’s?
Approximately 25% of Alzheimer’s cases are due to genes. The good news is that 75% of potential Alzheimer’s cases might be preventable by controlling the risk factors! Here is more information about the genes involved:
- Risk Genes. These increase your likelihood for a disease but do not guarantee you will have it. The strongest risk gene for Alzheimer’s is called Apolipoprotein E (APOE E4). Studies indicate that this gene may factor into 20-25% of Alzheimer’s cases. If you inherit APOE E4 from one parent, your risk for Alzheimer’s disease increases. Inheriting it from both parents makes your risk go up even higher, but it is still not a certainty.
- Deterministic Genes. These cause a disease or disorder and guarantee you will develop it if you inherit these genes. Research shows that gene variations in three proteins, Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP), Presenilin-1 (PSEN1) and Presenilin-2 (PSEN1), will result in Alzheimer’s disease. Also called familial Alzheimer’s disease, deterministic gene variations often affect many family members in multiple generations and symptoms typically develop before the age of 60. However, this form of Alzheimer’s accounts for fewer than 5% of cases.
Other Health Issues Associated with Being Overweight or Obese
- 42% more likely to get Alzheimer’s.
- 60% more likely to die of a heart attack versus someone who is not overweight.
- 90% more likely to get type-2 diabetes.
- 40% more likely to get cancer.
- 24% higher risk of having a stroke.
- Overweight people have a 32% chance of getting high blood pressure.
- 81% more likely to get high blood pressure.
- Hip and knee replacements are skyrocketing for overweight and obese people.
My goal in writing this article is not to scare Americans about serious health issues in the United States, but it’s to provide hope and education to everyone about what each person can do to not only prevent Alzheimer’s, but also help prevent many of the major issues causing Americans to needlessly suffer each day. By maintaining optimal health with enough exercise and a proper diet, you can reduce the likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s by as much as 80%! During my 59 years of life, the medical community has said they are looking to find a cure for cancer. Well, after 59 years there still is no cure! The same is true for Alzheimer’s and AIDS. There’s a reason why cures have not been developed for these issues. The medical community and Big Pharma make enormous amounts of money treating these horrible diseases than they would by just preventing them. Your future and your health are in your own hands!
The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), also known as the Health Department, is a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government with the goal of protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services. Its motto is “Improving the health, safety, and well-being of America”. Before the separate federal Department of Education was created in 1979, it was called the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW).
Based on United States health statistics, the U.S. Health and Welfare Department is doing a miserable job keeping Americans healthy and safe. This department needs to be overhauled immediately with true unbiased health professionals who are put in place to tackle the U.S. health epidemic and make America safe again!
Our government is so out of touch with the seriousness of the health epidemic and is totally clueless as evidenced by the inability of congress to put together an affordable health care act. I haven’t seen one plan that even mentions the reason health care is not affordable. A big part of the problem is the lack of information being provided to Americans that would help keep Americans healthy and safe. Education and health awareness need to be the driving force in getting America healthy again!