With more than 5.3 million Americans already diagnosed with the brain degenerative Alzheimer's disease, which is expected to double by 2030, it's a completely logical question to ask, "How can we stop it?"
Sadly, there is no magic cure or prevention in the form of a pharmecutical pill, but there are methods of prevention in the form of a healthy lifestyle.
While a recent New York Times' article entitled Years Later, No Magic Bullet Against Alzheimer's Disease leads readers to believe there is nothing to be done to prevent the brain changing illness, board-certified neurologist David Perlmutter is looking to the past to prove otherwise.
Just like wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of dying in a car crash, past studies suggest that exercise may play a key role in preventing Alzheimers.
At a 2006 meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, a study showed that individuals with high amounts of body fat increased their chances of getting Alzheimer's by 293 percent compared to those with low body fat.
Another study following 1200 people from 1986 until 2006 found that those who exercised regularly decreased their risk for developing Alzheimer's disease by about 40 percent.
In fact, studies show that the brain's most important memory structure, the hippocampus, which happens to be the first to be degenerated by the disease is actually increased in size by aerobic exercise!
The study authors state:
"Exercise training increased hippocampal volume by two percent, effectively reversing age-related loss in volume by one to two years."
Homocysteine is another looming danger, so much so that even mild amounts can double the risk of Alzheimer's!
It is an amino acid compound that is toxic to the brain, much like cholesterol is to your coronary arteries, but can be lowered to normal levels with nonprescription B vitamins.
A National Institutes of Health press release stated:
"People with elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood had nearly double the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a new report from scientists at Boston University."
Other retrospective studies on the brain degenerating disease have demonstrated the benefits of higher education, engagement in leisure activities, and high levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.
Like many terrible illnesses that plague our society, there is no easy cure for Alzheimer's, but at least these statistics give us hope that our lifestyle choices play a key role in prevention.
[Image via AP Images.]
Tags: alzheimers, disease, education, exercise, fat, healthy, illness, lifestyle, new york, prevention, running