|Posted on December 20, 2014 at 11:05 AM|
Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented?
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AD is an epidemic, affecting over 5 million Americans and nearly 40 million people worldwide. AD afflicts 1 in 8 people aged 65 years or older and nearly half of those 85 years and older.  The reason for the staggering prevalence is simply that we’re living longer. “The major risk factor for AD is advanced age,” noted Small. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life expectancy in 1900 in the United States was around 47 years; in 2013, it’s nearly 80 years.
How is it being treated now?
“The goal is to protect the healthy brain rather than repair a damaged brain,” Small commented, “and to develop disease-modifying drugs,” noting that, unfortunately, currently available medications are primarily symptomatic. Still, drugs like donepezil, memantine, and rivastigmine do benefit patients and can slow clinical progression. “If you take patients off of the drug too early they will get worse faster,” said Small. Medications that clear amyloid from the brain are thought to be a potential disease-modifying approach, one that has received a great deal of research attention. However, this work has yet to pan out. Studies are also underway looking at various other preventive strategies in AD, including anti-tau and anti-inflammatory treatments, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and an insulin nasal spray, developed as a result of the association between diabetes and AD.
What actually works?
Exercise: Of all lifestyle approaches that might contribute to AD prevention, the strongest evidence exists for exercise. Active animals have larger hippocampi, while older people who walk regularly — even as little as 15 minutes a day — have a lower risk for AD. People who routinely exercise exhibit better cognitive abilities and actually have larger brains. Regular exercise also results in lower PiB and FDDNP binding in the brain, reduced CSF tau, and increased CSF amyloid, all markers of decreased AD risk.
Mental Stimulation: Read, write, and do a crossword: Mentally stimulating activities and certain brain-training programs are in the long term associated with lower brain amyloid levels and a decreased risk for AD, as are graduating from college or engaging in life-long learning. [18,19] However as Small pointed out, data such as these are caveated by the chicken or egg conundrum: “Are people with good brain genes more often going onto college, or is it the mental enrichment that [is effective]?” wondered Small. “I think it’s probably a combination.”
Eat Right and Relax: Stress is a known contributor to cognitive impairment and decline. Animal work by Sapolsky and others  has linked stress states with memory impairment and decreased brain size; specifically, glucocorticoids released during stress appear to impair neuronal plasticity and lead to dendritic atrophy, particularly in the hippocampus. A 2012 study in rats  found that stress hormones impair prefrontal cortical functioning, affecting mental flexibility and attention.
What else can you try?
Chiropractic: Our chiropractic care focuses on the health of the central nervous system. The human brain is major organ in the central nervous system. Doctors of chiropractic are specifically educated and trained to identify and treat problems with the nerves of the human body. When your central nervous system is healthy, all systems of the body work properly. A condition called a subluxation can impair or damage nerves throughout your body. We are able to precisely identify and remove subluxations. This restores the health of your nerves and the normal function of the systems within your body those nerves control.