Alzheimer’s disease has a link that cannot be overlooked with aging, although this pathology is not an inevitable consequence of age. The fact that ours is a particularly aging country may be affecting an increase in the number of cases. It also happens that it is diagnosed in more early stages of the disease thanks to the achievements achieved in research.
Genetics, like aging, is another non-modifiable risk factor for Alzheimer’s. However, Alzheimer’s is only genetically determined in 1% of cases.
Alzheimer’s begins by causing neuropathological changes in the brain without the person presenting symptoms; a phase that could last up to 20 years. Afterwards, come mild cognitive impairment and, later, dementia.
Today everyone knows that lifestyle habits impact heart health, but what they don’t know is the impact of these daily patterns on the chances of Alzheimer’s. Indeed, a study published in the scientific journal Lancet Neurology that concludes that one in three cases of Alzheimer’s could be prevented by healthy lifestyle habits.
Important steps for prevention
One in two people has a direct or indirect relationship to Alzheimer’s disease, but most people are unaware that there are lifestyle habits that can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. We’re talking about modifiable risk factors.
On the one hand, Gramunt describes, “these are all those factors that will increase cardiovascular risk: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.”
On the other hand, there are aspects related to lifestyle (nutrition; physical, cognitive and social activity, and sleep habits). The practice of physical exercise, apart from having an impact on the heart, also does so in neural health. Exercise helps decrease brain vascular damage. In addition, there are studies that show that it could protect us from cognitive decline and that it promotes the formation of new neurons in the hippocampus (a key structure for the formation of new memories and, therefore, to have a good recent memory).
As for food, the Mediterranean diet has a positive effect because it combats oxidative stress, while excessive alcohol consumption is the brain’s enemy.
The neuropsychologist stresses the importance of restful sleep. And it’s because while we sleep, mechanisms needed to get rid of toxic products of brain metabolism, such as beta-amyloid protein, whose alteration is key to Alzheimer’s disease are activated.
Regarding cognitive activity, Gramunt notes that “the level of academic studies contributes to improving cognitive reserve. Keep the mind active as well, and can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms in the face of pathological brain changes. It’s critical to do new things, take on challenges (such as learning a language), read, or acquire a new skill (such as playing an instrument). We don’t just have to repeat what we already know how to do.”
Finally, it is advisable not to neglect social activities since, as the neuropsychology specialist recalls, “socialization is a useful way to keep the mind active, from interaction with other people, enriching our knowledge or learning from other perspectives, but fundamentally avoiding isolation and its consequent implications in mental health.”