Most people haven’t heard of type 3 diabetes, but they probably know the condition by its more common name: Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer’s isn’t a normal part of aging. It causes symptoms such as memory loss, dramatic mood swings, an inability to focus, and problems controlling the body. These symptoms are the result of ongoing brain damage. Alzheimer’s causes proteins to become like twisted threads inside the brain’s nerve cells. It also causes damaged protein deposits to build up plaque in the spaces between the brain’s nerve cells (called beta-amyloid plaques). There are about five FDA-approved medications to treat some symptoms related to language skills, memory, and some behavior problems. But there’s no medication-based cure, and the drug benefits are short-lived.
Researchers aren’t sure why some people get Alzheimer’s and others don’t. Evidence shows that having a family history of Alzheimer’s means a greater risk. Alzheimer’s is sometimes linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, and sometimes, although more rarely, to having had a head injury earlier in life. The numbers associated with Alzheimer’s are staggering: More than 5 million Americans live with it, and one in three elderly people die with it or another dementia. Every 66 seconds someone in the nation develops the disease, and projections estimate that by midcentury, someone will develop the disease every 33 seconds.
Think about what you’re feeding your brain.
Minimizing sugar intake is great for your brain health, because eating lots of simple carbs spikes blood sugar and leads to inflammation. Eating low-glycemic, low-inflammatory foods helps control Alzheimer’s, keeping insulin responses under control and reducing disease-beckoning inflammation.
Stay on the move.
Exercise decreases your chance of getting Alzheimer’s by a whopping 50 percent. Aim to get really fit. “The best scientific evidence suggests at least 450 minutes of exercise per week is sufficient. That means exercising a little more than an hour a day.
Never stop learning.
Research shows that keeping active mentally seems to increase vitality and even generates new brain cells. Try playing games, reading, attending lectures, and learning new things.
Sleep on it.
Seven to eight hours of good sleep each night is extremely valuable. A study on mice published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging found that sleep-deprived mice developed dementia-related problems sooner than others. And researchers believe that poor sleep can trigger pathological processes that accelerate the disease. Sleep is also the time that the glymphatic system flushes cerebral spinal fluid through the brain’s tissues, removing waste through the circulatory system, where it is eliminated by the liver. Research found that this removal of toxic waste during sleep lends protection against an unhealthy buildup of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain.
Reconsider your vices.
Smoking negatively affects the blood vessels of the brain, and smokers are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as nonsmokers.
Drinking too much can also lead to problems, including Korsakoff syndrome, an alcohol-related dementia with Alzheimer’s-like symptoms.
And if you’re addicted to the saltshaker? Salt can increase blood pressure, which in turn increases your risk of Alzheimer’s.