Transcript: Preventing Alzheimer’s with Lifestyle Changes
It is safe to say that Alzheimer’s disease research is in a state of crisis. For the past two decades, over 73,000 research articles have been published, averaging 100 papers per day, yet little clinical progress has been made. The reason a cure may be impossible is because lost cognitive functions in Alzheimer’s disease patients are due to fatally damaged neuronal networks, and dead nerve cells cannot be brought back to life. Consequently, replacement with new brain cells—even if it were technically possible, cannot be done without creating a new personal identity. They may live, but is it really a cure if their personality is lost forever?
Developing drugs that try to clear out the plaques from advanced degenerated brain tissue makes about as much sense as bulldozing tombstones from graveyards in an attempt to raise the dead. Even if drug companies figured out how to stop further disease progression, many Alzheimer victims might not choose to live without recognizing family, friends, or themselves in a mirror.
Thus, prevention of Alzheimer’s may be the key. Just as a heart attack or brain attack (stroke) can be significantly prevented, one can think of Alzheimer’s dementia as a ‘‘mind attack." Mind attack, like heart attacks or strokes, needs to be prevented by controlling of vascular risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol, controlling that chronic brain hypoperfusion, the lack of adequate blood flow to the brain over the years before the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, which means a healthy diet, physical exercise, and mental exercise.
Here’s the potential number of Alzheimer’s cases that could be prevented every year in the United States if we could just reduce diabetes rates 10%, 25%, because diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. And so is high blood pressure, depression, not exercising your body, smoking, and not exercising your brain. Altogether, a small reduction in all these risk factors could potentially prevent hundreds of thousands of devastated families.
If modifiable factors such as diet were found conclusively to modulate the risk of AD to the degree suggested by this research, then we would all indeed rejoice at the implications.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.
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