Preventing Alzheimer’s naturally can be possible with changes in lifestyle, diet and practicing certain physical and mental activities. Although it is not possible to avoid it in all cases, these changes always bring an improvement in physical and mental health.
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by producing cognitive deterioration in a progressive and irreversible way.
That is, a person with Alzheimer’s disease will gradually lose their mental faculties, unable to stop the progression of the disease and unable to recover their cognitive functions.
However, certain risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease have been connoted, so certain behaviors could combat their development and prevent their appearance.
In this article we will explain what can be done to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and what aspects could play an important role in its development.
Can Alzheimer’s be prevented or cured?
The Alzheimer ‘s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder par excellence. Its incidence increases with age and its prevalence doubles every 5 years after 65.
In fact, it is estimated that up to 30% of the population over 80 may suffer from this disease. In this way, AD is one of the diseases that most affect the elderly population.
In addition, taking into account its devastating effects for the person who suffers it, it is undoubtedly one of the pathologies that major scientific research efforts monopolize at present.
However, these efforts have not translated into the discovery of a cure for Alzheimer’s, which remains an irreversible degenerative disease , so it can be considered as “incurable”.
What is known with enough accuracy is the mechanism of action and neurodegeneration of this disease.
In AD, a progressive degeneration of neurons occurs in the hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, temporal and parietal associative cortex , and magnocellular basal nucleus of Meynert, the main source of cholinergic fibers with projections to the cerebral cortex.
This neuronal dysfunction results in neurochemical changes in the concentration and effect of brain neurotransmitters. One of the most affected, acetylcholine, seems more involved in the storage processes of new information.
The existing “specific” current treatments are based on this hypothesis, and increase the cerebral cholinergic “tone” by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase.
The most significant pathological findings in the brains of patients with this disease are senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, located mainly in the hippocampus and temporal lobe.
However, these discoveries have not yet been translated into the design of medications that, through their mechanisms of action, are capable of interrupting the progression of the disease.
Thus, despite having made extensive progress on the mechanism of action of Alzheimer’s, today still have no evidence to demonstrate what is the origin of this disease, or what psychotropic drugs could stop its evolution.
What are the risk factors for Alzheimer’s?
Of those explained in the previous section, the idea that today is globally reconcomium that Alzheimer’s is a multifactorial, heterogeneous and irreversible disease is extracted .
This means that the conjunction of genetic and environmental factors is required for its development.
It is contemplated that the basic substrate may be an accelerated neuronal aging not counteracted by the normal compensatory mechanisms of the brain.
Likewise, numerous investigations postulate that genetic factors predispose to the disease and modulate the age of onset of the clinic.
Thus, while genetics predispose us to Alzheimer’s disease, environmental factors act as promoters or triggers of the symptoms. Among these risk factors we find:
It is the main risk marker of the disease, so the prevalence increases as age increases, reaching to double every 5 years after 60.
Although the data obtained may be due to a higher life expectancy of women compared to men, the prevalence of AD is higher in women than in men (2: 1).
This fact would show that being a woman could be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Mutations of certain genes (PS-1 located on chromosome 14, PS-2 on chromosome 1 and PPA on chromosome 21) inexorably determine the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
There are also predisposing genetic markers, which would increase the risk of developing AD, such as the APOE gene located on chromosome 19 and its alleles e2, e3 and e4.
4-Family history of Dementia
Between 40 and 50% of the subjects affected by AD present a family history of dementia.
5-Cranioencephalic Traumatism (TCE)
The role of the TCE is controversial when it comes to predicting the occurrence of AD, but what has been demonstrated is that those people carrying the e4 allele of the APOE gene have a greater risk of having Alzhiemer after a TBI.
Although AD can occur in people with any educational level, an increase in AD among subjects with less education has been published.
In countries where daily caloric intake is low as in China, there is a lower incidence of AD, so a very high calorie intake could be a risk factor for the disease.
Likewise, polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidant vitamin supplements (vitamins E and C) have shown a neuroprotective role for AD, which indicates that certain types of diet may also be a risk factor for the disease.
5 Tips to prevent and fight Alzheimer’s
The risk factors discussed above provide us with clues as to what events may increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, which is why they indicate certain aspects to take into account when preventing it.
Obviously, many of the aspects mentioned above are unpredictable, so they can not be part of the range of behaviors that can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
In this way, risk factors such as age, sex or genetics, few strategies can provide us when our intention is to prevent the development of the disease.
However, they can give us valuable information to identify people who are at higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease and therefore can, in a certain way, indicate who is more “obligated” to carry out prevention behaviors and those who are less .
But eye! We must remember that Alzheimer’s is a multifactorial, heterogeneous disease of unknown origin, so the risk factors discussed are simply that, and do not limit the development or non-development of the pathology.
Therefore, there are currently no strategies, or drugs, or infallible exercises that allow us to prevent their appearance, although they can increase the chances of avoiding it and always improve mental skills.
One of the risk factors for the development of Alzheimer’s disease discussed above are the studies.
Although this pathology can be seen in person with any educational level, a higher prevalence in people with less education has been connoted .
This fact could be explained through the neuronal plasticity and the compensatory mechanisms of the brain.
In this way, the more you exercise your brain through educational and intellectual activities, the greater resources you will have to face the aging of brain structures.
Alzheimer’s is characterized by a degeneration of neurons in the brain, so the more you have worked these structures during the course of life, the more options you will have to not succumb to this disease in old age.
2. Read every day
In the same line of the previous advice, reading appears as a constant habit in day to day life.
Reading brings multiple mental benefits, since apart from learning new things, we are exercising our capacity for understanding, storage and memory.
In this way, having a daily habit that allows us to work these functions can play an even more relevant role than having done studies during some period of our life.
Thus, people who use reading as a distraction, hobby or hobby, perform a greater stimulation of their brain and increase their plasticity and their compensatory potential.
3. Exercise memory
If one thing has become clear through the many investigations that have been done about Alzheimer’s disease, it is that its first manifestation is the reduction of learning capacity and memory loss.
In fact, it has been shown how the first brain areas affected, and therefore, the areas where Alzheimer’s disease appears, are the regions where the functions of memory are performed, specifically the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex.
Therefore, performing activities that stimulate and increase the performance of these brain areas can be of vital importance to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Exercising memory through exercises of congenital stimulation is a basic activity both to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease and to slow down its evolution when it has already manifested.
4. Exercise other cognitive functions
It is common to fall into the error of thinking that Alzheimer’s is a simple memory dysfunction, but in reality it is not.
Although the inability to learn and the decreased ability to remember are the first symptoms of the disease, Alzheimer’s is a pathology that involves many other cognitive deficits.
Thus, through the same principles of neuronal plasticity discussed above, it is very beneficial for the correct functioning of mental abilities to exercise all cognitive functions.
The calculation, the improvement of language and speech, visual memory, visuoconstruction, the ability to concentrate or focus attention are operations that probably do not perform daily.
Even more, depending on the professional functions that we develop, as well as the daily activities that we normally do, it is probable that some of these cognitive functions we work very little.
So, to reduce the likelihood of suffering Alzheimer’s, it is very important that we work our brain functioning in full, and not leave aside the cognitive functions that we use less on a day-to-day basis.
5. Perform a balanced diet
As we have seen earlier in Alzheimer’s risk factors, eating seems to play a role of some importance.
The fact that in countries where the daily intake of calories is lower have a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s, is indicative that a balanced diet can be a good practice to prevent the development of the disease.
Similarly, polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidant vitamin supplements have been shown to play a protective role in the development of the disease.
Therefore, to carry out a diet that is not excessively caloric, and that is accompanied by antioxidant vitamin supplements (vitamins E and C) and polyunsaturated fatty acids, is a healthy way to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by an early deterioration of episodic memory that does not improve with recognition tests.
Thus, the first manifestations of this pathology consist of a progressive decrease in the ability to learn and remember, due to the degeneration of the parts of the brain that are responsible for such functions.
However, Alzheimer’s disease does not constitute a simple memory loss, as all areas of the brain gradually degenerate.
In this way, after the first symptoms of memory loss, other alterations will appear, such as problems in the calculation, difficulties in speech and recognition, or decreased attention.
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Likewise, serious cortical cognitive dysfunctions will appear, such as agnosia, aphasia or apraxia.
Thus, Alzheimer’s disease is understood as a disease that is gradually degenerating the brain, so that the person who suffers will lose all their faculties, to the point of not recognizing their relatives, not being able to control their bowels or can not walk properly