You’d think we would have built a built-in self-diagnostic system that would help us to discover what we can eat and how we can change our lifestyles to stave off Alzheimer’s disease. But, as shown by a recent study published in the journal PLOS One , our health is not as automatic as we might think. The number of genes involved in Alzheimer’s disease is still being determined, but the new research suggests there may be as many as five factors that interact with diet and lifestyle, including body mass index, apolipoprotein E4, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, the apolipoprotein E2 allele, and thyroid hormones.
We may not yet fully understand the mechanism by which Alzheimer’s disease develops, but scientists say they are on the right track. A recently released report from the Alzheimer’s Association, “The Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative,” offers a blueprint on how to prevent the disease. The report features 25 nutrition strategies to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, which are proven to help maintain brain health.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, second only to heart disease. A variety of factors can lead to AD, including a person’s age, family history of the disease, and whether or not he or she has a particular gene known to increase the risk of developing AD. There is no “silver bullet” approach to preventing or treating AD. In fact, the reality is that no one approach will work for everyone.. Read more about can plant-based diet reverse alzheimer’s and let us know what you think.
Are you concerned about Alzheimer’s and neurodegeneration? When it comes to cognitive decline, there are a lot of factors we can’t control. Certain dietary and lifestyle changes, on the other hand, may assist to reduce our risk. Here’s how to turn the tables on your brain.
I was playing a game with my family a few years back. The following question was raised:
“Which disease do you want to avoid at any costs?”
(It seems that my family like drab games.)
Everyone at the table said something along these lines:
“Alzheimer’s disease” is a term used to describe Alzheimer’s disease.
The discussion then shifted to how unavoidable this disease seemed to be, and the atmosphere darkened considerably.
This caused me to pause and reflect.
Most of us think that we can avoid heart disease, diabetes, and stroke to some extent.
However, unlike these, many of us believe that developing Alzheimer’s is purely a result of genetics (or doom, depending on your circumstances).
Is this correct?
Is there anything we can do in our everyday lives to assist avoid Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline?
This is a question we’ll look into in this post. We’ll focus on the following topics in particular:
- What Alzheimer’s disease is and how it affects people.
- What variables have a role in Alzheimer’s disease and neurodegeneration?
- What variables may aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, and what you can do to preserve your own brain (or assist clients / loved ones avoid the illness as well.)
We’ve also included an Alzheimer’s Prevention Quiz to see how effectively you’re stacking the deck in favor of your brain!
Finally, it’s wonderful that you’re reading this because, let’s be honest…
Alzheimer’s disease is a cause for concern for all of us.
To be honest, my family wasn’t acting morbid or worried in any way.
Between 2000 and 2014, the number of people dying from Alzheimer’s disease rose by 89 percent. That may not seem to be all that noteworthy… Until you consider the reductions in stroke and heart disease fatalities of 21% and 14%, respectively, during the same time span (see image below).
Alzheimer’s disease is currently the sixth largest cause of mortality in the United States, with costs of treatment equaling or surpassing those of cardiovascular disease or cancer.
From 2000 to 2014, the percentage change in different causes of mortality.
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What is Alzheimer’s disease and how does it affect people?
If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the disease may have shown itself discreetly.
- Perhaps your mother was a bit shaky on her feet at first, or forgot terms for things.
- Maybe your grandpa became angry, or he became more strict about the rules of the home.
- Perhaps your aunt made a joke about being absent-minded to hide some strange habits.
Maybe it became worse afterwards.
- Perhaps a close relative has forgotten who you were. Or had any idea what day or year it was.
- Someone’s personality may have totally altered; they may have gone from being a soft teddy bear to a roaring grizzly.
- Perhaps someone became disoriented and frightened in their own driveway or neighborhood, or wandered to a location where something used to be 30 years ago.
- Someone who acquired a second language may have forgotten it and reverted to speaking just the original language they learned as a kid.
Neurodegeneration may happen quickly at times. It may take up to 20 years between the onset of symptoms and the onset of severe disability.
This is a procedure that may be minor or severe.
- Mild: People may have difficulties with short-term memory (e.g., names of people they just met, forgetting something they just read, not being able to remember where they put a set of keys, etc.). They can take care of themselves and operate quite well elsewhere.
- Moderate: People may need assistance with everyday activities, since they are experiencing significant difficulties with long-term memory, daily self-care, and concentration. They may forget crucial information from their personal history, such as their current residence. They may not know what day it is or where they reside all of the time. They may also have issues with other brain functions, such as sleep. They may become more frightened or furious, as well as experience other significant emotional and personality changes.
- Advanced: At this stage, individuals need round-the-clock care. Though they may have periods of lucidity, they are usually unaware of their surroundings, unable to speak effectively, and incapable of doing most bodily activities.
It’s understandable to be concerned about the many symptoms of neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s disease causes damage to neurons in the brain at its most basic level.
Brain cells essentially define who we are and allow us to engage in all of life’s activities. Damage to these cells, as one would expect, may have an impact on a variety of processes, including:
- reminiscing, recalling, remembering (both short-term and long-term)
- writing and speaking
- decision-making and problem-solving
- sensory input interpretation
- traversing the globe and finding our way around
We may die if enough neurons are damaged.
We still don’t understand why and how the neurons are destroyed.
Right now, the most popular working theory is that protein-based “gunk” builds up in and around brain cells, similar to how clothes fibers and cat hair block your dryer lint filter.
to be more specific
- Outside of neurons, beta-amyloid plaques form.
- Inside neurons, tangles of different protein fibers may form.
The buildup of neuron-to-neuron communication as well as nutrition transport may be hampered by this accumulation of protein “gunk” (and the transport of other essential compounds, like neurotransmitters).
Beta-amyloid plaques (arrows) and twisted strands of protein fibers may be seen in a zoomed-in image of the frontal cortex (arrowheads).
The neurons that are destroyed initially are often found in areas of the brain that form new, short-term memories. The damage then spreads to the regions of the brain that regulate long-term memory.
Are beta-amyloid plaques, however, to blame? Or are they just results of a different process?
So far, clinical studies utilizing medicines to inhibit beta-amyloid production haven’t shown promising results. As a result, some researchers believe that when lipid supply is limited and neuron metabolism is excessively reliant on glucose, our systems may manufacture beta-amyloid plaques as a defensive strategy.
In other words, beta-amyloid plaques may be a consequence of Alzheimer’s disease rather than a direct cause. It’s likely a complicated combination of variables, like with most chronic illnesses.
Other factors that may have a role include:
- Neurons that are misfiring. (When the neurons are physically sound but the chemical information flow between them is disrupted.)
- Inflammation that is out of control. (This is when inflammation goes berserk, and instead of being beneficial, it causes harm to brain structures.)
- Gray matter is thinning. (When the amount of nerve cells in a specific area of the brain diminishes.)
- Atrophy of the whole brain. (Most individuals are aware that losing muscle mass may result in diminished strength and function.) This may also happen to the size of our brains).
Advanced Alzheimer’s disease causes brain atrophy.
Many Alzheimer’s risk factors are beyond our control.
Our major danger factor is becoming older.
And, as people live longer, the frequency of Alzheimer’s disease is projected to double by 2050, affecting one out of every 85 people.
Alzheimer’s disease affects about 5.5 million individuals in the United States. The majority of them are above the age of 65. However, since Alzheimer’s disease is often misdiagnosed and/or underreported, there may be more.
Alzheimer’s disease patients’ age distribution in the United States, 2017.
Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis before the age of 65 is uncommon, and it seems to affect only a tiny proportion of individuals (2-5 percent of all cases) with certain genetic abnormalities.
While Alzheimer’s disease is increasingly prevalent as people become older, it is not inevitable, and it is not a “natural” aspect of aging.
Women are more likely than males to get Alzheimer’s disease.
In the United States, for example, women account for two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients.
This may simply be related to the fact that women live longer.
Consider that if a guy lives to reach 65, he hasn’t died of a cardiovascular disease, implying that he has above-average cardiovascular health, lowering his risk of Alzheimer’s disease (more on the connection between Alzheimer’s and vascular health later).
The effects of sex hormones including testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone on the brain are complicated.
Endogenous sex hormones (hormones produced spontaneously by the body) may protect against cognitive deterioration. The estrogens secreted by most women’s ovaries before menopause, for example, may assist brain cells and structures develop, remain healthy, and send messages, as well as prevent cell death.
Nonetheless, some data indicates that supplementary hormones, such as postmenopausal hormone replacement treatment (typically conjugated estrogens with progestins) in women, may raise dementia risk as well as other cardiovascular disease concerns.
The data is relatively sketchy, and the results may be influenced by other variables such as age or the specific hormones supplied.
Men’s cognitive performance may be affected by age-related hormonal changes as well as therapies such as androgen blocking therapy (for example, to treat prostate cancer).
Genetics is a factor.
Although genetics and epigenetics are complicated, researchers have discovered several significant genetic variants that, at least in some groups, may add to one’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is known to run in families, implying a hereditary connection. This kind of genetic variation often clusters among a closely related group, indicating that someone’s ethnicity and origin may also play a role (more on this below).
A variation on the APOE gene, which codes for the protein apolipoprotein E, a cholesterol transporter present in the brain and other parts of the body, is one of the recognized genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.
Apolipoproteins are proteins that assist in the transport of cholesterol and lipids from the liver to the rest of the body. The brain and cerebrospinal fluid are high in cholesterol and lipids (CSF).
Certain lipids and/or cholesterol may be deficient in the CSF of Alzheimer’s patients. Having a sufficient amount of these chemicals in the brain is essential for overall brain health, neurotransmission, and perhaps defense against other harmful substances. As a result, changes in apolipoproteins may have an impact on the “delivery mechanisms.”
E2, E3, and E4 are the three variants of the APOE protein. In many groups, the APOE-4 gene variation (the “” stands for the Greek letter epsilon) is a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and this risk seems to encompass individuals of European, African, and East Asian ancestry.
- Having one copy of APOE-4 increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by three times.
- Having two copies increases the danger by 8 to 12 times.
Keep in mind that having APOE-4 does not ensure that you will get Alzheimer’s disease.
- Some individuals with APOE-4 do not get Alzheimer’s disease.
- Alzheimer’s disease may affect individuals who do not have APOE-4.
Genetics is based on probabilities rather than absolutes. Many biological phenomena interact in unexpected ways.
According to researchers, these and other genetic risk factors may influence one-third of the formula for how our brains develop as we age.
Consider the following example:
- Having a female relative with Alzheimer’s (such as a mother) seems to raise risk more than having a male relative.
- Other genetic risk factors, like as Down syndrome, may potentially increase the chance of neurodegeneration. In reality, 30% of Down syndrome people in their 50s have dementia. This may be related to a genetic variation that causes plaques and tangles to form in the brain at a younger age.
The other two-thirds of non-genetic variables may, to some extent, be controlled by ourselves and our surroundings. (See below for further information.)
A word of caution: We can now screen for the APOE4 gene and other genetic variables. However, it is unclear if possessing this gene accurately predicts whether or not you will get Alzheimer’s disease. So, be cautious with these and any other genetic information you get.
Another risk factor is ethnicity.
Our ancestry and ethnicity represent possible genetic groupings as well as other social variables.
Consider the following example:
- Individuals of African American and/or Hispanic ancestry in the United States seem to be more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease than people of white European descent.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia are diagnosed at three to five times the rate of non-Aboriginal people.
- People of Chinese descent showed lower incidence of dementia than ethnic Malays or Indians in tests conducted in a multi-ethnic community in Singapore. In comparison to the rest of East Asia, South Korea has more than double the incidence of dementia diagnosis.
- Alzheimer’s disease will be diagnosed in 20% of Israelis over the age of 65, perhaps reflecting risk factors in different ethnically Jewish communities.
- Scandinavian nations have the highest Alzheimer’s mortality rates (varying from about 30% in Denmark to 54% in Finland), perhaps because individuals in those countries live longer (and therefore are more prone to develop age-related illnesses)…. or perhaps due to additional genetic issues affecting Northern Europeans (ethnic Finns, for instance, have higher rates of cardiovascular disease as well).
Given these varied populations, genetic heritage is unlikely to be the only factor influencing our risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Part of one’s health is influenced by social factors.
Other social and economic variables, such as social inequality, poverty, language difficulties, a lack of public health resources for particular groups, the ability to pay medical treatment, and so on, are likely to have a role in health, as they do with other chronic illnesses.
Consider the following example:
- There are substantial variations in how soon individuals get treatment after first detecting symptoms throughout Europe: In Germany, therapy may be available within a year; in the United Kingdom, you may have to wait three years.
- Colombia has a dementia diagnostic rate of approximately 2-4 percent; its neighbor Venezuela has an 8-13 percent rate; another neighbor, Brazil, has a rate of about 5%; and its southern cousin Argentina has a rate of 12 percent.
- Alzheimer’s disease affects people of African descent in the United States at significantly greater rates than Africans in Africa.
- Speaking of nationality, there is evidence that individuals who speak more than one language, regardless of ethnicity, have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
So, like other chronic illnesses, it’s complicated.
Trauma to the head is also not a healthy thing.
It should be self-evident that causing harm to your skull is bad for your brain.
Some kinds of brain trauma, such as sports-related concussions, may (and should) be avoided.
Accidents and combat injuries, on the other hand, are less common. For example, many veterans are dealing with the long-term consequences of traumatic brain damage, or TBI.
Many risk factors are under our control.
So, we can’t get rid of our genes, parents, or time. It’s possible that we won’t be able to get to an idealized rich egalitarian society with a flawless health-care system.
As one would assume, numerous variables outside of our control affect brain health (and degeneration), including trauma, air we breathe, foods we may have eaten, and so on.
However, there are certain variables over which we have control. (Some you have a lot of influence over, while others you just have a little.) However, anything can be tweaked, even if just little.)
Rather than just providing a list of these variables, we’ve developed an Alzheimer’s Prevention Quiz (below).
Use this quiz to assess the factors that you can control in your life to help decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and neurodegeneration.
Note: This quiz isn’t about being right or incorrect; it’s about figuring out what you’re currently doing — and what you might do, or do more of — to maintain your brain health and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
How did you perform on the Alzheimer’s Prevention Test?
Give yourself a score for each of the following parts as you read them. After you’ve finished, go through your responses and ask yourself:
Is there any way I could tweak or enhance certain aspects, even if it’s only a smidgeon?
Below, we’ll look at what you can do.
Part 1: The Role of Metabolic Factors
The brain consumes 20% of the body’s oxygen and energy while it is at rest. Our brains suffer as well if our heart and arteries aren’t functioning correctly to supply blood and nutrients, or if our metabolism is disturbed.
Do you have control over your blood sugar?
Alzheimer’s disease has been dubbed “Type 3 diabetes” by some researchers.
This is because persistently high blood sugars (and blood insulin) seem to promote inflammation and affect hippocampal size and development (a brain structure essential to learning and memory).
When a person is diagnosed with diabetes, their risk of Alzheimer’s increases; estimates indicate that 81 percent of Alzheimer’s patients have glucose metabolism problems.
Have you ever been informed by your doctor that you have poor glucose control or been tested for it? Have you been told you have Type 2 diabetes?
- I’m in excellent health and everything is OK – 3 points
- 2 points for some minor blood sugar problems
- I am aware that I have serious problems and/or Type 2 diabetes – 1 point
- I’m not sure, but I’m starting to wonder – No issue, go ahead and get it looked out.
Are your blood lipids and cholesterol levels within normal limits?
Because our brains and cells are made up mostly of fat, alterations in lipid (fat) metabolism will have an impact on brain health, as well as oxidation and inflammation. It’s not only about heart disease (as we often think) when you have a bad lipid profile; it’s also concerning brain health.
Have you had your cholesterol and blood lipids (HDL, LDL, triglycerides, etc.) checked? Are they within a safe range?
- I’m in excellent health and everything is OK – 3 points
- Mild lipid problems in the blood – 2 points
- I’m aware that I have serious problems (e.g., excessive triglycerides) – 1 point
- I’m not sure, but I’m starting to wonder – No issue, go ahead and get it looked out.
Is your blood pressure within normal limits?
Brain health is dependent on vascular health. Higher blood pressure may harm the brain’s tiny blood arteries, and individuals who have high blood pressure while they’re young are more likely to suffer neurodegeneration later in life.
Have you lately gotten your blood pressure checked? Is it within a safe range?
- Yes, I’m rocking the 120/80 or less – three points
- Some minor issues; my blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90 – 2 points.
- I’m aware that I have high blood pressure (140/90 – 1 point).
- I’m not sure, but I’m starting to wonder – No issue, go ahead and get it looked out.
Is your body fat percentage within a healthy range?
Body fat, also known as adipose tissue, is a metabolically active tissue that secretes hormones and other cell signaling chemicals.
As a result, having too much body fat, especially visceral fat surrounding our internal organs, increases the risk of inflammation and metabolic disturbance.
Lower isn’t always better beyond a certain point. If our body fat/weight is too low for us, it may indicate that we aren’t eating enough, losing essential lean mass, and/or risking nutritional shortages. (Or we have a medical condition that is causing us to lose weight.)
There may also be a connection between brain health and leptin (a nutrient-sensing, “anti-starvation” hormone). Leptin levels decrease when weight and fat mass decrease. Leptin levels, like body fat, should be healthy and typical – neither too high nor too low.
How food restriction and severe weight reduction may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Is your body fat percentage within a healthy range for your age, gender, and body type?
- Yes, three points
- I believe I have a bit more body fat than I should – 2 points
- I’m carrying a lot more body fat than I probably should be – 1 point
- I’m carrying a lot less body fat than I probably should – one point
- I’m not sure, but I’m starting to wonder – No issue, go ahead and get it looked out.
Part 2: Dietary considerations
What is your general eating pattern?
Do you follow a diet similar to those linked to a reduced risk of chronic disease? A typical Mediterranean, Japanese, and/or Scandinavian diet, for example?
Antioxidants, B vitamins, and anti-inflammatory fats are often included in these diets. They also tend to include meals that contain phytonutrients that may benefit brain function, such as:
- increasing synaptic plasticity (the process of “wiring and rewiring” our brain connections to aid learning),
- increasing the efficiency of cell signaling pathways,
- increasing cerebral blood flow, and/or
- lowering the risk of beta-amyloid plaque formation
Phytonutrients (plant nutrients) may help to explain why individuals who consume a lot of plants have a reduced risk of dementia than those who don’t.
Herbs and spices with anti-inflammatory effects are found in many global cuisines and traditional diets. Consider the following example:
- Curcumin seems to be anti-amyloidogenic, anti-oxidative, and anti-inflammatory in various ways.
- Saffron, cinnamon, and ginger have all been proven to have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Garlic seems to be neuroprotective in a variety of ways.
If any of these anti-inflammatory effects could be transferred to brain health, they may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Give yourself one point for each of the items listed below that you consume on a regular basis.
(Don’t worry if you don’t eat any of them due to personal taste or food intolerances, or if your favorite “healthy food” isn’t included.) The goal is to raise awareness about some of the nutrient-dense foods you’re adding.)
- 1 point for colorful fruits (e.g. dark berries, citrus, etc.).
- 1 point for dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, Swiss chard, etc.).
- 1 point for other green veggies (e.g. broccoli, green beans).
- Red peppers, purple eggplant, orange carrots, and other bright vegetables – 1 point
- 1 point for garlic and/or onions
- 1 point for beans and/or legumes (e.g. lentils, chickpeas, etc.).
- 1 point for nuts and/or seeds (walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.).
- 1 point for fish, particularly oily fish (e.g. salmon, herring, etc.).
- 1 point for seafood (shrimp, squid, etc.).
- 1 point for wild game (e.g. venison, elk, etc.).
- 1 point for whole grains (brown or wild rice, buckwheat, etc.).
- 1 point for fermented foods (e.g., kimchi, yogurt, sauerkraut, natto, etc.).
- 1 point for olives and/or olive oil
- 1 point for herbs and/or spices (e.g. turmeric, cinnamon, etc.).
What’s the status of your omega-3 fatty acid intake?
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in neuronal membranes, regulate inflammation and immunity, and may affect beta-amyloid plaque development and clearance.
In principle, having a sufficient supply of omega-3 fatty acids may aid brain function. We don’t know enough about whether supplementation may help prevent Alzheimer’s, but eating omega-3 fats on a regular basis (from oily fish or other foods) seems to be a good idea.
Taking omega-3 supplements to cure or prevent Alzheimer’s disease in those over 60 does not seem to be particularly effective, most likely because it is too late in the disease’s development.
You may be curious in the differences between ALA (typically derived from plants) and EPA/DHA (generally derived from fish) (usually from marine animal sources like fish or krill, though you can also get it from algae).
While our systems can convert ALA to DHA, we don’t do it well, and some individuals have a genetic mutation that makes them convert it even less effectively. Some individuals with Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to have this genetic mutation, which raises the issue of whether they might benefit from direct DHA/EPA intake. At this time, it’s uncertain.
How frequently do you consume DHA / EPA omega-3-rich meals, such as oily fish / seafood, or take DHA / EPA supplements (whether from fish, seafood, or algae)?
- 4 points per day
- 3 points if you do it a few times a week.
- 2 points per week
- 1 point for less than weekly.
What about the rest of your fat consumption?
Monounsaturated fat (found in foods like olives, almonds, and peanuts) seems to be good for the brain as well.
Saturated fats are a mixed bag, with conflicting evidence. It seems that diets low in saturated fats may decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps because high-saturated-fat diets make it more difficult to remove beta-amyloid from the brain and impair general blood circulation.
While the fatty acid content of our meals has an impact on the health of our cells, it’s important to remember that specific fat types may not be to blame.
High-saturated-fat diets are frequently associated with additional undesirable consequences, such as a lack of omega-3 fatty acids or a greater sugar consumption. Few individuals, after all, consume fresh fish and butter as their sole sources of fat.
Saturated fats are often found in processed meals that are rich in other ingredients such as salt, sugar, trans fats, preservatives, and so on.
The fact that saturated fats are often found in processed meals may be more important than fat type in increasing brain inflammation and oxidation.
Also, when oils (which are heavy in fats) are heated to very high temperatures (such as for deep frying), aldehydes are formed, which may harm bodily cells. Some believe this will result in neurological disorders.
How much healthy fat from unprocessed “genuine foods” do you consume on a daily basis?
For each, give yourself one point.
(Don’t worry if you don’t eat any of them due to personal taste or food intolerances, or if your favorite “healthy food” isn’t included.) The goal is to go through some of the nutrient-dense foods you’re incorporating.)
- 1 point for avocado
- 1 point for coconut / coconut oil
- 1 point for olives and olive oil
- 1 point for nuts and seeds
- 1 point for peanuts*
- 1 point for oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and herring).
*How come peanuts aren’t considered a nut? Peanuts are a legume, similar to beans and lentils rather than “real” nuts such as almonds and walnuts.
How diverse is your fat consumption?
- Yes, I try to vary my diet and consume a variety of healthy-fat-containing foods – 3 pts
- Sort of; I prefer a couple of fat sources – 2 pts
- It’s not at all; there’s just one type – 1 point.
- Baby, it’s an aerosol cheese diet! – 0 points
How often do you use less-healthy processed fats like trans fats or processed cooking oils (such maize oil, hydrogenated margarine, or cooking sprays)?
- 3 points for never.
- 2 points if it happens once in a while
- 1 point if you do it on a regular basis
What’s your fruit and vegetable consumption like?
Fruits and vegetables, particularly colorful ones, are beneficial to both our bodies and our minds.
They include vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants, and supplementing those components does not seem to provide the same health advantages as eating fruits and vegetables.
How many colorful fruits and/or vegetables do you consume on a daily basis?
- 3 points if you get 5 or more.
- 2 points for 3 to 5 points
- 1 to 2 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1
- 0 points because I hate plants
What techniques of cooking do you employ?
Cooking techniques have the ability to change the nutritional content of our meals and/or increase the quantity of hazardous chemical substances in them.
Some cooking and processing techniques, for example, may increase the quantity of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in meals; some studies believe that AGEs and Alzheimer’s disease are linked.
Highly processed meals, meats, full-fat cheeses, and items cooked by grilling, frying, or roasting are the most common sources of AGEs. They have a lengthy half-life in the body and seem to increase oxidative stress, inflammation, and the formation of beta-amyloid plaques. They can even bind to a bodily receptor that causes inflammatory diseases and influences apolipoproteins (including APOE4).
(To put it another way, these AGE guys stay in the body for a long time and can cause a lot of harm while they’re there.)
This isn’t to say you should never grill again; it simply means you should limit your consumption of grilled meals.
How frequently do you consume meals that are deep fried or grilled?
- 3 points for never.
- 2 points if it happens once in a while
- 1 point if you do it on a regular basis
- For breakfast, lunch, and supper, I like fried carbon lumps – 0 points
Do you receive enough B vitamins in your diet?
B vitamins (especially B6, folic acid, and B12) seem to assist maintain cognitive function. Many B vitamin deficits, on the other hand, may cause mental and cognitive health issues.
Whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables, meats/fish/poultry, fortified dairy, and so on are all good sources of these vitamins.
You’re probably OK if you consume a diverse diet that includes a wide variety of animal and plant foods and aren’t deliberately lowering your B vitamins (for example, via persistent alcohol use).
Consider supplementation, especially with B12, if you consume entirely plant-based.
What kind of diet do you eat?
- I consume a broad range of animal and plant meals (and/or take a B12 supplement) on a regular basis; diversity is my bag, baby! – 3 marks
- I sometimes experiment with new meals – 2 points
- I try to consume full, unadulterated meals whenever possible, although I prefer to adhere to my “routine” – 1 point
- Every day, I eat the same thing, typically from a box – 0 points
What’s the state of your intestines?
The notion of a relationship between our brains and our gut health — dubbed the “gut-brain axis” — is gaining traction as new data emerges.
For example, experts estimate that one-quarter of celiac disease patients also suffer from neurological or mental health problems (such as anxiety or depression).
Foreign chemicals and pathogens may enter systemic circulation when the intestinal epithelium (lining) is damaged, prompting the body’s immune system to attack. Even if the foreign material is generally harmless (such as a partly digested food particle), the body may react by inflaming and/or destroying healthy cells, including brain tissue.
Our microbiome (a complex interior ecology of friendly bacteria, as well as potentially beneficial viruses and fungus) may also have an impact on our mental health. Pathogenic bacteria, for example, may produce chemicals (such as amyloids and endotoxins) that seem to have a role in plaque development and tangle formation in the brain, as well as contribute to excessive inflammation.
This implies that if our GI microbiota is out of whack (for example, due to antibiotic abuse or anything else that disrupts the delicate balance of the system), we may have neurological issues.
How do you look after your gut health?
For each gut-health-promoting activity you engage in, award yourself one point:
- I frequently consume fermented foods (such as kimchi, yogurt, sauerkraut, or natto) – 1 point
- I try to avoid using antibiotics or antibacterial products excessively – 1 point
- I use probiotics as a supplement – 1 point
- I spend a lot of time outside, where I’m exposed to a variety of potentially helpful microorganisms (for example, when gardening or working on a farm) – 1 point
- I am aware of any dietary intolerances or sensitivities I may have, and I avoid foods that irritate my stomach – 1 point
- I consume at least 20 grams of fiber per day from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans and legumes – 1 point
- I limit sugary meals that may contribute to an unfavorable GI environment – 1 point
- To help fiber do its work, I drink lots of water – 1 point
- I make sure my poop is presentable – 1 point
Part 3: Other day-to-day activities
What level of activity do you have?
Given that our brain is housed inside our bodies, it stands to reason that anything that improves blood flow to the body would also increase blood flow to the brain. It is beneficial to have more blood flow to the brain.
Regular exercise may also help you to:
- reversing aging cell degradation,
- reduce synaptic loss in the brain
- enhance neurotrophic (neuron development) factors that protect neurons,
- increase the efficiency of insulin signaling pathways,
- reduce the levels of inflammatory markers, and
- Increase the amounts of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is essential for memory and learning.
All of these activities are beneficial if you want to avoid Alzheimer’s disease.
More frequent exercise (even if it’s just 15 minutes) seems to be preferable to less frequent activity. Instead of trying to smash yourself in the gym three times a week, think about how you can get more activity in your everyday life.
I engage in some kind of intentional physical activity that raises my heart rate at least a little…
- 5 points for every day, throughout the day
- 4 points if you do it once a day.
- 3 points for every other day
- 2 points if you do it a few times a week.
- 1 point once a week
- 0 points if you do it less than once a week.
What kind of sleep do you get and how much of it do you get?
Sleep is a master metabolic regulator and essential for brain health and cognition (including learning, decision-making, and memory, all of which are impacted by Alzheimer’s disease).
Sleep has been related to the APOE4 gene. Sleep has also been related to our ability to remove beta-amyloid.
On most evenings, how much sleep do you get?
- 0 points if you work for less than 5 hours.
- 1 point for 5-7 hours
- 2 points for 7-9 hours
- I’ve been up for more than 9 hours and am in good health – 3 points
- More than 9 hours, but I’m also dealing with another health problem (such as depression or chronic tiredness) – 2 points
On most evenings, how well do you sleep?
- Awful. I wake up often, find it difficult to fall asleep, suffer from chronic insomnia or sleep apnea, and so on. – 1 point
- So-so. Some nights were fine, while others were less so. – 2 marks
- That’s quite good. I generally have little trouble falling asleep and staying asleep – 3 points
- My family refers to me as “Log” or “Dead Guy,” and I’m capable of sleeping through a nuclear apocalypse – 4 points.
Do you get enough vitamin D in your diet?
Vitamin D may aid in the preservation of brain function by assisting with neuronal plasticity, calcium homeostasis, and glutathione metabolism, among other things.
The greatest source is sunlight, although eggs, shellfish, liver, and some mushrooms are also good sources.
Do you get enough vitamin D in your diet?
- Yes, I try to go outdoors every day for a little sunlight – 3 points.
- Yes, I make an effort to go outdoors at least once a week – 2 points
- I’m now in a dark and chilly environment, however I supplement with vitamin D – 2 points
- It’s dark and chilly where I am right now, and I’ve lost all motivation to do anything other than watch Netflix and cry silently – 1 point
- I’m not sure – That’s OK; get your vitamin D levels checked.
Do you take a cigarette?
- No, and I’ve never done that before – 3 points
- No, although I did in the past – 2 points
- Yes, on occasion; or at work, I’m exposed to secondhand smoking – 1 point
- Yes, very a lot – 0 points
How frequently and how much do you use alcohol?
For certain individuals, light to moderate alcohol intake (particularly red wine) may offer some advantages for their brain function, although these benefits fade beyond a certain point.
How frequently do you use alcohol on a regular basis?
- 4 points if you do it less than once a month or never.
- 3 points if you do it once a month or once a week.
- 2 points a couple times a week or so
- 1 point per day
- 0 points if you do it more than once a day.
You would usually… if / when you drink.
- 3 points if you just have one drink.
- 2 points if you have 1-3 drinks.
- 1 point if you consume 3-5 drinks.
- 0 points if you consume 5 or more drinks.
How much caffeine do you consume on a regular basis?
Caffeine helps your brain feel good, so if you depend on your daily cup of coffee or tea, you’re undoubtedly aware of this. In reality, some caffeine may protect our brains against degeneration, at least in the case of certain neurodegenerative illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s.
Because people’s capacity to metabolize caffeine varies, any caffeine advantages may not be applicable to everyone. Coffee and tea, on the other hand, may include additional health-promoting compounds.
A strong coffee habit, on the other hand, may indicate underlying stress or overwork problems, negating any possible benefit. More isn’t always better at a certain point.
How frequently do you consume coffee, tea, energy drinks, or any other type of caffeine (such as caffeine tablets) on a regular basis?
- 1 point if you only do it a few times a week or fewer.
- 2 points if you do it once a day or fewer.
- 3 points if you do it twice a day.
- 1 point if you do it four times a day or more.
Have you ever had your caffeine metabolism genetically tested?
People who are genetically “slow metabolizers” of caffeine may have health issues if they take too much caffeine, according to research.
- Yes, plus I’m a “quick metabolizer” (2 points).
- Yes, and since I’m a “slow metabolizer,” I limit my caffeine consumption to 2 points.
- Yes, and even though I’m a “slow metabolizer,” I still consume a significant amount of caffeine – 1 point
- No, never – cool, you can do it if you want to.
What are your coping mechanisms for dealing with stress?
While our brains like and need a little amount of “good stress,” prolonged and/or severe “bad stress” is detrimental to our health. Prolonged worry and anxiety may impair learning, memory, decision-making, and other cognitive processes over time.
What methods do you use to deal with stress?
For each of them, give yourself one point.
(Of course, there are more ways to handle stress and self-control; feel free to add your own to this list.)
- I practice mindfulness, meditation, or self-relaxation on a regular basis – 1 point
- I go outdoors and enjoy the fresh air and scenery – 1 point
- I chuckle – 1 point
- 1 point for getting together with friends and/or relatives.
- 1 point for spending time with animals.
- I put forth a lot of effort – 1 point
- I do yoga, tai chi, or any kind of relaxation exercise – 1 point
- 1 point for going to the pool, hot tub, spa, or sauna.
- I down a bottle of wine – no points, just checking to see if you’re paying attention.
Part 4: What’s in your immediate vicinity?
What do you come into contact with?
Metals (such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and aluminum) and other substances (such as polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticides, and arsenic) may build up in the body and cause neurological disorders. It’s unclear what function they may have in the long run in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, but given their other known neurotoxic effects, it’s probably better to stay away from them as much as possible.
Do you work in an environment where you’re exposed to hazardous chemicals like cleaning products, pesticides/lawn chemicals, paint fumes, heavy metals like mercury, and so on?
- 3 points for no.
- Yes, in rare occasions – 2 points
- Yes, very often – 1 point
Are you exposed to hazardous chemicals in your everyday home surroundings, such as cleaning products, pesticides/lawn chemicals, paint fumes, heavy metals such as mercury, and so on?
- 3 points for no.
- Yes, in rare occasions – 2 points
- Yes, very often – 1 point
How involved are you in your studies and everyday life?
Our brains, like muscles, improve as we use them more. This encompasses things like learning, social interaction, and finding meaning in what we do.
Do you have hobbies, attend courses, or engage in other forms of intentional, meaningful skill practice and/or learning – particularly difficult learning?
- Yes, three points
- 1 point for no.
Do you volunteer, work to assist others (such as animals, people, the environment, and so on), and/or make a social contribution in some way?
- Yes, three points
- 1 point for no.
Do you have a sense of being “attached” to life? Do you pay attention to what’s going on around you, other people, the world, and your own experiences?
- Yes, three points
- 1 point for no.
What kind of social support do you have?
Do you have close, supportive, and meaningful connections with people and/or animals in your life?
- Yes, I feel linked to people and that they support me – 3 points
- I have a few that are acceptable – 2 pts
- I have some, but they aren’t even close to being close – 1 point
- I’m feeling lonely and cut off from the rest of the world – 0 points
What is your overall grade?
|0-29||You may be having trouble adopting healthy habits, which might put you at risk for neurological illnesses. Seek help if you want to make some good adjustments.|
|30-56||You have some healthy habits, but you might change a few aspects of your lifestyle to enhance your odds.|
|57-84||You’ve established a strong foundation of health-promoting habits. That’s fantastic!|
|85 points or more||You’re a rock star when it comes to brain health!|
What about some “bonus points” items?
We’ve already covered the fundamentals. What if you wish to specialize on brain health? What other options do you have?
Ketogenic diets are a kind of diet that is high in fat and
Ketogenic diets have showed potential in the treatment of epilepsy and other brain and mental health problems. While this possibility is intriguing, we still don’t know how it will impact Alzheimer’s disease.
Nonetheless, it seems that ketogenic diets may improve the hippocampus and may also assist to reduce AGE formation in the body, based on some short-term animal and human evidence. Ketones may provide protection against beta-amyloid buildup in the brain.
Keep an eye out for further studies in this field.
calorie restriction / fasting
The potential is exciting, just as it is with ketogenic diets. (That is, if fasting excites you.) Fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidation in previous studies (two key factors in neurodegeneration and aging).
But, as with ketogenic diets, we can’t tell for sure whether this is significant.
Many chemicals and supplements show promise in vitro (in a petri dish), but they don’t always work in humans (i.e. in real life).
This is due to the fact that bodies are complicated and contain many regulatory feedback systems that may prevent supplements from interfering too much with biological processes that are properly regulated.
Alternatively, too much of one item from a supplement may interfere with other processes (which can be bad). It may also represent the reality that not everything we consume is digested, absorbed, and/or used.
However, there are a number of nutrients and chemicals that may have a role.
Increasing your intake of the following foods may be beneficial:
- Alpha-lipoic acid may help people with Alzheimer’s disease slow down their cognitive loss.
- Carnitine may help guard against cognitive deterioration. Carnitine, on the other hand, has inconsistent effects and may be detrimental in the case of other chronic illnesses (like heart disease). So keep an eye on this one.
- Synapse development requires the presence of choline and uridine. Some people have a genetic mutation that makes it harder for them to make choline in the body, resulting in higher dietary choline needs. Choline (and DHA) may explain why modest egg consumption seems to be good for brain function. Choline, in the form of citicoline, may assist individuals with Alzheimer’s disease who are already in the early stages.
- Selenium is an important antioxidant, and maintaining a healthy selenium level is likely beneficial to brain function. Foods like Brazil nuts, rather than pills, are the greatest sources of selenium since it may build up rapidly and cause toxicity.
- In Alzheimer’s patients, zinc levels in the CSF and brain seem to be decreased. However, since too much zinc may interfere with copper metabolism, it’s probably better to get it through our meals.
It may be a good idea to eat less of the following foods:
- Copper interacts with APOE4 and homocysteine and is present in beta-amyloid plaques. Overexposure to copper (usually from inorganic sources such as pipes and some supplements, since the liver processes copper from food well) may cause neurodegeneration. Too much copper seems to stymie the removal of beta-amyloid in mice.
- Early in life, iron is necessary for brain development, but it’s generally better to avoid too much iron as you get older, particularly if you’re not a woman who menstruates (and thus has a mechanism to disperse excess iron). If you don’t need iron, don’t take supplements, and limit your intake of iron-rich foods, which are readily absorbed. Iron seems to have an effect on amyloid precursor protein (which causes greater beta-amyloid accumulation in the brain when it isn’t processed properly).
- Ginkgo biloba has long been promoted as a supplement that may help with memory. While it seems to be safe and may provide short-term advantages such as better concentration or mood, a Cochrane study published in 2009 concluded that it is not effective in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Since then, several investigations have confirmed this. Conclusion: Alzheimer’s disease prevention is not possible.
What do you think you should do next? Some advice from.
Begin right now.
Alzheimer’s disease cannot be reversed after it has advanced and neurons have been damaged or destroyed. The majority of us, on the other hand, can take measures right now to safeguard our brains and reduce our risk of neurodegenerative illness.
Recognize that this is a multifaceted issue.
Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a variety of causes. It isn’t just a matter of having the “wrong” genes or eating the “wrong” foods.
Recognize that your brain is a physical organ.
Physical well-being incorporates mental well-being. Whatever you do to enhance your physical health will almost certainly help your mental wellbeing.
This includes the following:
- not a smoker
- consuming alcohol in moderation
- consuming a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables
- consuming sufficient lean protein
- consuming sufficient amounts of healthful fats
- consuming as many different meals as possible
- regular physical activity
- coping with stress
- taking precautions to avoid chemical exposure
Recognize that mental health encompasses both emotional and psychological well-being.
Having social support and fulfilling connections, as well as seeking learning and development and having a sense of purpose in life, are all important for general wellbeing and brain health.
If you want to learn, you should set goals for yourself.
We have a tendency to regurgitate what we already know. For example, we might have been doing crossword puzzles for decades. You may think it’s “difficult,” but you’re not really learning anything. Many kinds of “brain games,” whose efficacy isn’t completely backed by data, are in the same boat.
We must be genuinely challenged, maybe even unpleasant, throughout the learning process for neuroplasticity to occur and for us to develop new brain connections.
Consider a new type of movement, a new language, or a new hands-on skill in particular. All of these tasks require the integration of reasoning, learning, verbal and nonverbal abilities, visual and other sensory inputs, and kinesthetic (movement-based) data.
As data, use the results of your quiz.
How are things going for you? What healthy behaviors have you previously established?
Which of your health behaviors do you want to improve?
Don’t be too hard on yourself if your score isn’t as high as you’d want it to be, and don’t strive to be “perfect.”
Instead, think about how you might use the data to create some attainable, long-term objectives for altering your routines and actions.
Get the fundamentals in order before looking for supplements or unique solutions.
Yes, there are several supplements that seem to be promising. Yes, some “superfoods” may seem to be intriguing. Like goji berries or turmeric lattes if you really enjoy them.
But, in fact, your brain will be lot happy if you receive 8 hours of sleep every night rather than some mystical Amazon jungle bean.
If you need assistance, seek it.
Consider hiring a good coach if your quiz results indicated that you may need some additional help making healthy adjustments (such as getting to a healthy body weight, increasing your regular exercise routines, and/or selecting meals that provide value to your body).
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If you’re a coach or wish to be one…
It’s both an art and a science to guide clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy food and lifestyle adjustments in a manner that’s tailored to their individual body, tastes, and circumstances.
Consider the Level 1 Certification if you want to learn more about both.
There is a lot of misinformation being spread about Alzheimer’s disease. One of our biggest misconceptions is that it is the same as getting old. That is not entirely true, as it is a disease that can affect anyone regardless of age.. Read more about lifestyle changes to prevent alzheimer’s and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which diet actually lowers the risk of developing Alzheimers?
There is no conclusive evidence that any particular diet will lower the risk of developing Alzheimers.
What reduces Alzheimers risk?
Diet, exercise, and mental stimulation.
What is the best strategy to prevent dementia?
There are many ways to prevent dementia. One way is to keep your brain active by doing things like playing games, reading books, and learning new skills.