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About 26 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, there are about 5.3 million Americans suffering from it and the figure is said to rise to around 16 million by 2050.

No Specific Dietary Supplementation or Lifestyle Intervention can Prevent or Alter the Course of Alzheimer’s Disease

There is no conclusive evidence to prove that any specific dietary supplementation or lifestyle intervention can prevent or alter the course of Alzheimer’s disease. These were the findings of a panel of 15 experts called together by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from different fields of specialties like geriatrics, long term care, nursing, psychiatry, etc.

About 26 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, there are about 5.3 million Americans suffering from it and the figure is said to rise to around 16 million by 2050.

According to the panel, there are several risk factors for the disease. Old age is the strongest factor associated with Alzheimer’s. Besides that, people carrying a specific variant of the apolipoprotein E or APOE gene are also at greater risk. It is more common in people of a dark skin tone. Certain diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases are said to increase the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Similarly, certain diets, like the Mediterranean diet, which is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), fruits and vegetables, and cutting back on unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking are said to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s. Some other studies have suggested that mental exercises, which keep the brain agile, help in reducing the incidence of the disease. However, experts have failed to find any conclusive evidence in support of these factors.

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle and Avoiding Major Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Diseases may prove Beneficial in Preventing Alzheimer’s too

Experts have long associated the health of the heart to the health of the brain. Therefore, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases may prove beneficial in preventing Alzheimer’s too. It has been hypothesized that controlling your blood pressure, blood sugar and body weight- the factors which control the risk of suffering from any cardiovascular disease, may be helpful in stalling Alzheimer’s disease as well.

Alzheimer’s is a disease of the old. Of the 5.4 million Americans with the disease, an estimated 4 percent are under 65, 6 percent are 65 to 74, 45 percent are 75 to 84, and 45 percent are 85 or older. Moreover, the pathophysiology of the disease is still not very clear. We are not certain whether the amyloid plaques found in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s are a symptom or a cause of the disease. A lot of investigation is still required to know about the nature of the disease, its risk factors and the changes that can be introduced in our dietary habits and lifestyle so that we can prevent the disease.

As Alzheimer’s is more common in elderly people, it is felt that the oxidative and inflammatory stress related to the aging process, may be the cause behind the degeneration of the brain cells. Therefore, antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C, beta- carotene and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have been recommended.

Similarly, remaining physically active, socially engaged and mentally agile may decrease the rate of neuronal degeneration. Physical and mental exercises to achieve these goals may prevent Alzheimer’s.

Until any conclusive evidence is found in this direction, we can just speculate and lead a healthy lifestyle in anticipation that this may prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Steenhuysen,J. (May 9, 2011). Lifestyle, diet have little effect on Alzhiemer's. Reuters.
  • Philpott. G. (September 2010 ). Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimers News