Alzheimer’s Disease: Prevention

Lifestyle factors with the greatest impact on increasing your risk of Alzheimer’s.

Nutrition

There are many studies that link good heart health with good brain health. If the vessels that transport energy throughout the body are clogged, then less blood gets to the brain, increasing your risk of Alzheimer’s.

Foods that encourage a healthy heart include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, chicken, nuts, and legumes. Saturated fats, red meat and sugar should be limited.

For more information on healthy diet please visit British Heart Foundation’s guide to healthy eating.

Sleep

When we sleep, our brains spend time clearing the amyloid plaques8. When we do not get sufficient sleep, our brains begin to accumulate the plaques. Good sleep is not just determined by the length but also the ‘quality’ of sleep one receives.

Ways to improve sleep could include: going to sleep at the same time every night, or if this is not possible, creating a routine before sleep that encourages the mind to rest e.g. playing a song, taking off make-up, brushing teeth; ensuring the room is dark, meditation, etc.

Physical activity

This is also linked to what we know about heart health: a healthy heart equals healthy blood flow to the brain. It is recommended to engage in regular exercise whether it be a long walk, a few 5-minute star jump sessions throughout the day, or some ‘desk yoga’.

Anything that works up a little sweat is good for the heart, however, it is important to note that if you have any health conditions, please discuss with a healthcare professional what type of exercise is right for you.

Alcohol and Smoking

Excessive alcohol use is currently being studied as a potential modifiable risk factor. Drinking over the recommended guidelines over a long period of time can cause brain damage and may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.

There is not enough research to conclusively speak on moderate alcohol use but efforts should be made to stick within the recommended limits.

For further support around alcohol use please visit: 

NHS alcohol support

Mind’s guide to addiction and dependency support

Smoking is another factor that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s.

For more information on how to quit smoking, please visit NHS support on how to quit smoking

Mental health / Keeping an ‘active’ mind

There is still much to be learnt about how keeping ‘busy’ either socially or through learning and ‘entertaining’ one’s mind can affect the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Some studies suggested this is the case and such activities might work to build a ‘cognitive reserve’ (a ‘safe’ of emergency thinking supplies to use in later life); they can include brain training games, completing crosswords or sudoku, playing chess, taking  online courses, or simply chatting with others9,10. These activities are also excellent for mental health in general. 

We live in a world that is constantly ‘on the go’ and have a tendency to forget that rest and recharge are equally as important as seizing the day. Who will seize anything, if you are too tired to do so?

There is research suggesting links between stress levels and risk of developing Alzheimer’s, so take a break, light a candle, run a bath. For you and your brain.

For more information on getting help if you struggle with your mental health, please visit:

The Self Care Toolkit

5 steps to mental wellbeing

Advice on getting help from a local mental health charity

Diagnostic testing

At Klarity we use the latest technology when it comes to diagnostic testing. Our home blood tests give you health insights and personalised recommendations.  Find out which test you should take. 

Alzheimer’s is a tricky disorder - the more we learn, the more questions we have. But it is this very cycle that keeps us curious and determined to understand and treat this debilitating disease.

Efforts should be made to work on the lifestyle factors that are in our control, and to also educate ourselves and our loved ones how to spot signs and support one another.

Alzheimer’s, as well as other forms of dementia, do not just damage and take one life but the lives of many.. If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and need support, please find below some of the resources available for you:

Getting help and support as a carer for someone with dementia

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care: Help for Family Caregivers

10 Ways to Help a Family Living with Alzheimer's

References:

  1. Dementia [Internet]. [cited 2021 Dec 14]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia
  2. How does the brain work? [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2021 Dec 14]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279302/
  3. Ma R-H, Zhang Y, Hong X-Y, Zhang J-F, Wang J-Z, Liu G-P. Role of microtubule-associated protein tau phosphorylation in Alzheimer’s disease. J Huazhong Univ Sci Technolog Med Sci. 2017 Jun;37(3):307–12.
  4. Busche MA, Hyman BT. Synergy between amyloid-β and tau in Alzheimer’s disease. Nat Neurosci. 2020 Oct;23(10):1183–93.
  5. Hansen DV, Hanson JE, Sheng M. Microglia in Alzheimer’s disease. J Cell Biol. 2018 Feb 5;217(2):459–72.
  6. Sarlus H, Heneka MT. Microglia in Alzheimer’s disease. J Clin Invest. 2017 Sep 1;127(9):3240–9.
  7. A Armstrong R. Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Folia Neuropathol. 2019;57(2):87–105.
  8. Lim MM, Gerstner JR, Holtzman DM. The sleep-wake cycle and Alzheimer’s disease: what do we know? Neurodegener Dis Manag. 2014;4(5):351–62.
  9. Stern Y. Cognitive reserve in ageing and Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet Neurol. 2012 Nov;11(11):1006–12.
  10.  Colangeli S, Boccia M, Verde P, Guariglia P, Bianchini F, Piccardi L. Cognitive Reserve in Healthy Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Meta-Analysis of fMRI studies. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2016 Aug;31(5):443–9.

Aarthi Narayan

Master of Science (M.S.), Biological science, University of Illinois Chicago
Scientist with 10+ years of strong industry, academic experience in Molecular biology, Tissue culture, Protein purification techniques. Mid-level experience in Diagnostics and start-ups. Excellent at completing large scale projects and experiments with minimal supervision in a timely and efficient manner.

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