Steven G Pratt M.D., FACS, ABIHM
November is Alzheimers Awareness Month
ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE (AD). Alzheimer’s disease begins approximately 30 years before the first symptoms are recognized. Beta amyloid plaques, the major mechanism thought to cause AD, have been seen in young adult brains. About 50% of U.S. families have a member with Alzheimer’s disease. Approximately five million people in America have AD, and the chance of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every five years after the age of 65. There is reportedly a 50% chance of developing AD by age 85. In the U.S., the annual health care costs associated with AD are estimated to be $100 billion. Years ago it was thought that the number of brain cells did not increase after birth. We now know that the brain continues to make new neurons (brain cells) through out the lifespan. Degenerative diseases damage certain brain areas by destroying neurons or their supporting cells. Our brain functions well in such circumstances until approximately 1/3 of our neurons have been lost. It takes between 10-50 years before the damage to the entorhinal cortex (the first brain area affected by AD) appears. In general, the first symptom is memory loss for recent events. The first real symptoms of AD occur 10-50 years after the “ AD process” begins asymptomatically By the time recent memory loss begins, between 30-60% of the neurons in the entorhinal cortex have been lost. In the beginning of symptomatic AD, the memory lapses may be only “occasional”, however, as the disease continues to damage and destroy brain cell, the symptoms and behavior patterns appear more consistently. Early symptoms of AD include forgetting appointments, names, significant family events, holidays, forgetting to take meds, difficulty following simple directions, and getting lost when going someplace you have often visited in the past. Elevated Risk Risk factors are:
3.5x One family member with AD or related disorder or + genetic test
for the ApoE4 gene(this test can be ordered by you health care professional). EARLY SCREENING ESSENTIAL 7.5x > 1 family member with dementia or AD. EARLY SCREENING ESSENTIAL 2.0x Head trauma resulting in loss of consciousness for > a few minutes. WEAR A HELMUT, AVOID ACTIVITIES THAT ARE ASSOCIATED WITH A SIGNIFICANT RISK FOR FURTHER HEAD TRAUMA. E.G. MOTORCYCLES, HORSEBACK RIDING, SOCCER, SCATE BOARDS, AND BICYCLE ACCIDENTS.
Prevention of AD:
1) Consumption of cold-water seafood (e.g. Wild Alaskan
salmon, Tuna, Halibut, Sardines, Mackerel, Trout (wild or farmed) All of the above are high in omega-3 fish oils (e.g. EPA, DHA, DPA and others). Four servings of these seafood choices, each week, and taking omega-3 supplements, should definitely be part of EVERYONE’S AD prevention program. 2) No Cigarettes
3) 7-8 hours of sleep each night with 20 minute power naps during the day.
4) Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables along with olive oil.
5) Drink at least 3 oz of dark cherry or pomegranate juice. Drinking with meals helps increase absorption.
6) Enjoy a cup of green tea daily.
7) Love those nuts and seeds. About a handful daily.
8) Control your blood sugar and Cholesterol
9) Keep your mind busy. Crossword puzzles, reading, etc…
10) Get plenty of exercise.
For more information on AD check out my book Superhealth.