Alzheimer’s Matters: Ways to Stop its Prevalence as We Age
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the frightening diseases of old age people. Imagine you start forgetting little things, you don’t even recognize the face of your close ones. It's not just about waiting and hoping that by taking pharmaceutical care, we might fight Alzheimer’s disease. Many types of research have been put forward extracting ways on how you can reduce the disease from developing and progressing. (1)
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of neurological condition that proceeds when the brain cells die resulting in the loss of memory and cognitive abilities (2). Alzheimer’s disease progresses with a condition called dementia. It starts as a result of brain injuries or diseases that produce adverse effects on memory, thinking, and behavior (3). Without these abilities, life would be so difficult definitely!
The main target of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is that it starts accumulating two types of proteins in the brain cells i.e., tangles (tau) and plaques (amyloid-beta). By doing so, it kills brain cells and makes people crippled with their life (4).
The early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are memory loss, speech or language problems, and impulsive behavior. As the symptoms start worsening, people start having problems remembering recent events, recognizing people, and reasoning and questioning (2).
At What Age Alzheimer’s Disease Starts?
According to Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is accompanied by 60 to 80 percent dementia. It is common for the elderly aged 65 or above (3). But sometimes it attacks middle-aged people as well, making itself a not-so elderly disease. People in their 40s or 50s may also develop this condition. If it happens so, it is called the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease (2).
It’s been stated that Alzheimer’s disease affects 200,000 US adults which are below the age of 65 years. Scientists are still trying to figure it out, but they haven’t succeeded yet. It may be because of certain rare genes that are prominent among such people (2).
What Happens to the Brain?
Alzheimer’s disease is a complex disease of the brain. Many factors contribute to its onset and progression. Some factors like age and genetics are not in your control (1). Let’s dig deep to know what these accumulated proteins do to the brain (5).
- Amyloid plaque formation prevents communication within the brain cells.
- Tau proteins in AD becomes tangled and so the nutrients can’t get transported. Eventually, brain cells die.
- AD interrupts cell signal transmission as a result of which the brain fails to proceed with messages. So, the person cannot learn, remember, and communicate.
- AD also affects neurotransmitters (brain’s chemicals).
- Microglia is a type of cell involves in immune responses. They start taking beta-amyloid plaque as cell injury, thus causing inflammation.
- In advanced cases, AD shrinks the surface layer of the cerebrum, interfering with the brain’s cognitive functions. it also affects the hippocampus that involves in memory.
Are There Any Natural Remedies for Alzheimer’s Disease?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Your doctor may start a treatment protocol to make the symptoms less worsening and to slow down the progression of the disease (3). Apart from medical treatment, the patient should get natural remedies as well, to get the most benefit out of the things that decrease the progression of AD.
Sage is a spice that has a pungent scent. A study published in 2017 depicting that sage contains compounds that can improve neurological and cognitive functions in AD patients (6).
Turmeric is filled with a compound called curcumin. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Turmeric protects the brain cells by clearing off beta-amyloid plaques (6).
The use of Ginkgo Biloba is also beneficial in AD. It can improve cognitive function because of its ability to improve blood flow to the brain. Research suggests that it boost the decreasing cognitive function of patients experiencing dementia, cognitive impairment along with other neuropsychiatric symptoms like depression (6).
Ashwagandha helps the AD brain by decreasing oxidative stress. In preliminary studies, it also decreases the chances of beta-amyloid plaques formation (6).
Ginseng is also a popular herb that gives off its anti-inflammatory chemicals ginsenosides. It also reduces beta-amyloid accumulation (6).
Gotu Kola boosts the mental state of the brain by decreasing oxidative stress. Many animal studies resulted that Gotu kola can inhibit AD-related oxidative stress and cognitive decline (6).
Besides treating anxiety and insomnia, lemon balm can also boost cognitive function (6).
The herbs and spices should be taken in a small amount, and they must be pure. Otherwise, they may pose plenty of side effects.
Does the Food We Eat Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?
Eating healthy foods is a way of protecting your brain and decreasing inflammation. It means foods have a role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease (1).
- Keep a check on how many sugary foods and refined carbs you are taking in. Excessive consumption of white flour, white rice, and pasta can abnormally raise your blood sugar level and can inflame your brain. The same is the case with cheese, fried foods, butter, and margarine (1).
- Eating vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, collards are rich in vitamin A and C. They boost brain health and reduce the risk of AD (7).
- Nuts are rich in healthy fats, fibers, and antioxidants. They prevent the body from storing bad cholesterol and boost the overall health of the brain and heart (7).
- Fruits like berries and strawberries have protective antioxidants and vitamins that help in improving cognitive functions and reducing the chances of AD (1) (7).
- If people start consuming olive oil as their primary oil in homes, they will protect themselves from cognitive decline (7).
- Omega-3 fats found in cold-water fish are the best way to boost the brain’s functions, decreasing the onset of dementia and AD by reducing beta-amyloid plaques (1) (7).
Even after all such healthy foods, you should maintain a healthy weight, otherwise, AD and dementia would result, and you may fail to protect your brain (1).
Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., March 2021, “Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia—or Slowing its Progress”
Medically reviewed by Seunggu Han, M.D., Written by Markus MacGill, September 22, 2020, “What to know about Alzheimer's disease”
Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP, Written by Jaime Herndon, MS, MPH, MFA, May 25, 2019, “Everything You Need to Know About Alzheimer’s Disease”
“What can you do to avoid Alzheimer’s disease?”, Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School
Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP, Written by Treacy Colbert, November 30, 2017, “What Does Alzheimer's Do to the Brain?”
Written by Cathy Wong, Medically reviewed by Caitilin Kelly, MD, February 03, 2020, “7 Best Herbs and Spices for Brain Health”
By Paula Cohen, March 30, 2015, CBS News, “The MIND diet: 10 foods that fight Alzheimer's (and 5 to avoid)”