Avoiding and delaying dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

26 Sep

Last week I visited the University of Kentucky Sanders Brown Center on Aging. There, two doctors talked about the latest research on how “to feed” our brains to avoid and delay dementia and Alzheimer’s disease . Learning new skills, being physically active, having a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and Omega 3-Fatty acids, and having a social life, were few of the recommendations the doctors made.

We can’t change what is in our genes but we definitely can take care of our health. The doctors mentioned the connection between heart, blood alzheimer_brain[1]sugar, and the brain, and how one affects the others. A diet high in saturated and Trans fats seems to affect our memory.

The relationship may be mediated by a gene called apolipoprotein E, or APOE. This gene is associated with the amount of cholesterol in your blood, and people with a variation of this gene, called APOE e4 are at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease. According to Dr. Gad Marshall, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, about 65% of individuals who wind up with dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease in their 60s and 70s have that gene.

The connection is a little clearer when it comes to memory loss that’s related to blood vessel damage. The buildup of cholesterol plaques in brain blood vessels can damage brain tissue, either through small blockages that cause silent strokes, or a larger, more catastrophic stroke. Either way, brain cells are deprived of the oxygen-rich blood they need to function normally, which can compromise thinking and memory.

A Mediterranean diet is great for a healthy heart. This diet carries the strongest evidence of any diet-related intervention for preserving memory. The Mediterranean diet includes: fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, beans and nuts, olive oil, very limited red meat, no more than four eggs per week, and moderate wine consumption (one glass a day for women).

I consider myself a very active person, who follows a Mediterranean diet. However, I have not learned a new skill in a long time. I will try to learn how to play a musical instrument. Any suggestions?

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