Alzheimer’s Disease PREVENTION Part 1: The 7 Guidelines

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Alzheimer’s Disease PREVENTION
Part 1: The 7 Guidelines

The 2014 meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, held in Philadelphia, provided study authors Richard Isaacson MD and Hilary Glazer MD the opportunity to contribute their research findings to the growing body of knowledge on Alzheimer’s disease. While their recent study focuses on many aspects of Alzheimer’s disease, this article series will cover the importance of dietary influences that are key in possibly avoiding the onset of this dreaded disease.

Alzheimer’s disease begins in the brain 20 to 30 years before any symptoms become evident. In 2010, 4.7 million Americans were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and that figure is expected to triple in the next few decades. While research is advancing in identifying risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease, other research is pointing the way to preventive measures to help everyone improve their odds.

The clinical progress of Alzheimer’s disease is categorized in three stages; mild, moderate, and severe. Further classification into levels, applicable to each stage, aid physicians and caregivers in tailoring individual patient care. For the purposes of this article, the general stages provide an understanding of the value of preventive measures.

The mild stage describes patients that appear to be healthy but sometimes have difficulty understanding their general surroundings. Their symptoms are often overlooked and considered to be a normal part of the aging process. Patients in the moderate stage experience degeneration of areas in the brain that control language, the ability to reason, sensory and thought processing, with symptoms of the disease becoming more pronounced and related behavioral concerns becoming more evident. The third, or severe stage, requires full time care for the patient. Cellular nerve damage in the brain is extensive. Sadly, patients experience loss of motor coordination and control, lose their ability to speak, walk, feed themselves, and fail to recognize loved ones.

At the 2013 International Conference on Nutrition and the Brain, key speakers were tasked to develop a list of guidelines, for the general public, targeting the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. The resulting guidelines include 7 key points. Part 2 of this article series provides a closer look at the 7 guidelines. Each guideline is briefly described here.

1. Minimize your intake of saturated fats and trans fats.

2. Vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, and whole grain should replace meats and dairy products as primary staples in the diet.

3. Vitamin E should come from foods, rather than supplements.

4. A reliable source of vitamin B12 should be part of the daily diet. Consider regular blood level monitoring of your B12 level.

5. Take multivitamins only when directed by your doctor, and choose brands without iron and copper. Take iron supplements only when your doctor advises.

6. The role of aluminum in Alzheimer’s disease is unclear. In order to minimize exposure, avoid aluminum based cookware, antacids, baking powder, and other products that contain aluminum.

7. Include aerobic exercise, equivalent to 40 minutes of brisk walking three times each week, as a regular part of your routine.

Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease starts now, regardless of your age and physical health. Explanations of the guidelines and recommended dietary changes to potentially avoid the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease are available in Part 2 of this article series,
Alzheimer’s Disease PREVENTION; Part 2- The Mediterranean Diet.

References:
Stetka Bret S, Isaacson Richard S, Glazer Hilary P. More data on dementia. Medscape Neurology. Medscape Medical News from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 66th Annual Meeting. June 04, 2014.
Alzheimer’s Resource Center of Connecticut, Inc. Stages of alzheimer’s disease. Found at https://eee.arc-ct.org/stages_of_alzheimers_disease.php. Accessed 17 June 2014.
Barnardt Neal D, Bush Ashley I, Ceccarelli Antonia, et.al. Dietary and lifestyle guidelines for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiology of Aging. Published online 16 May 2014.

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