It’s 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, 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. One 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 therefore 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 further disease progression, many Alzheimer’s victims might not choose to live without being able to recognize family, friends, or themselves in a mirror.
Thus, prevention of Alzheimer’s seems to be the key. Alzheimer’s disease, like heart attacks or strokes, need to be prevented by controlling vascular risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol, controlling what’s called “chronic brain hypoperfusion,” the lack of adequate blood flow to the brain over the years before the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This means a healthy diet, physical exercise and mental exercise.
In the video, Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease with Lifestyle Changes, you can see a visual of 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 percent or 25 percent, since 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 of 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 Alzheimer’s disease to the degree suggested by this research, then we would all indeed rejoice at the implications.
My mom’s mom died of Alzheimer’s. It is worth preventing at all costs.
Up to half of Alzheimer’s cases may be attributable to just those seven risk factors, and that’s not even including diet, because there were so many dietary factors that they couldn’t fit them into their model. What role does diet play? That’s the subject of my video, Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease with Diet.
So far these are some of the videos I’ve done on dementia prevention and treatment:
Michael Greger, M.D.
PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More Than an Apple a Day, From Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.
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