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Alzheimer’s disease patients don’t just wake up one day and develop the disease. Scientists and doctors say that the disease in most cases is developing in the brain 10 to 20 years before any noticeable symptoms begin. With conventional treatments offering little benefit to those already diagnosed with the disease, most research focuses on early detection as a primary strategy. But there is a fundamental problem with this approach. Since the disease is developing in your brain up to 20 years before symptoms begin, if you wait until you are diagnosed – you will have missed the best time to prevent this disease altogether. In fact by that time, IT MAY BE TOO LATE!
So a better strategy is to recognize your risk of Alzheimer’s and if you find yourself at a higher than average risk, implement some natural health strategies now to prevent the disease altogether! And yes, both the clinical studies and practicing integrative physicians have revealed some specific actions that substantially reduce your risk of getting the disease later on. The key is to start early enough – before you ever get a diagnosis.
Alzheimer’s Risk Factors – Know your Risk
How many of the following risk factors apply to you? The good news is that many of these factors are modifiable.
- Age – The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease is thought to double every 5 years beyond the age of 65 years.
- Sex – Women have a higher prevalence of AD than men.
- Genetics & family history – Research in the 1990s validated family history as a prominent risk factor for AD. The presence of an affected first-degree relative (i.e., biological parent or sibling) is associated with a lifetime AD risk of 30% to 40%, compared with 10% to 15% in the general population.
- African–American or Hispanic ethnicity is associated with increased risk for AD.
- Physical inactivity – The research on this is very strong; one study found performing moderate exercise during midlife led to a 39 percent decreased risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, while moderate exercise late in life was associated with a 32 percent lower risk.
- Diabetes and obesity – Insulin-resistant people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop plaques in their brains that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. A strong correlation has been shown between body mass index (BMI) and high levels of beta-amyloid, the protein that tends to accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
- Depression – Depressed people are twice as likely to develop certain forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
- Hypertension and other vascular diseases involving inflammation. Animal and observational clinical studies have suggested a link between inflammatory processes and cognitive decline.
How to Protect Yourself
Do you have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease? If so, there are many things you can do now to start lowering your risk. These strategies include:
- Eating coconut oil
- Avoiding gluten
- Taking a magnesium supplement
- Taking B vitamins
- Supplementing with turmeric
- Getting probiotics
- Drinking coffee
Alzheimer’s disease is a terrifying condition that is reaching epidemic proportions, but you can help protect yourself by starting to reduce your risk right now. Start by implementing a few of the anti-Alzheimer’s strategies mentioned here and keep reading NHA’s many resources. Keeping your memory and independence as you age is well worth it!
This blog was originally published in 2011 and has been updated.