Can Alzheimer’s be prevented? This question has plagued researchers and helped motivate investigations of the disease for many years. Despite the extensive research and testing that has been done surrounding possible causes, no concrete answers have been proven as of this writing. Many of these studies have focused on diet, exercise, social and mental stimulation, and other lifestyle factors.
There are several forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common.
A study carried out by the RAND Corporation in April of 2013 states, “the monetary cost of dementia in the United States rages from $159 billion to $215 billion annually, making the disease more costly to the nation than either heart disease or cancer.” RAND estimates that the costs of the disease could double by 2040.
Experts do agree that many complex interactions factor into the causes of Alzheimer’s including, age, environment, genetics, and coexisting medical conditions. While age and genetics cannot be altered, researchers have found that changes in lifestyle can help reduce the risk for the disease. Medical News Today reports, “more than 50% of cases of Alzheimer’s Disease could be prevented through lifestyle changes and reducing major risks like smoking, lack of exercise, and treating and preventing chronic conditions like depression, diabetes, and mid-life high blood pressure and obesity.”
A study released by the World Health Organization in June 2014 titled “Tobacco & Dementia” has brought to light how tobacco use could be one of the leading causes of dementia. The study suggests that due to the nature and damage that smoking causes to blood vessels, it can be attributed to harming brain cells and increasing risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. More specifically, smoking accelerates atherosclerosis; the build up of plaque in arteries which narrows the blood vessels, depriving the brain and heart cells of proper oxygen. The World Health Organization article states that smoking can also cause oxidative stress, which can lead to neural death as well as an inflammatory response that “may be directly or indirectly related to the neuropathology of AD.” Smoking is even known to increase the risk for carriers of the gene associated with dementia.
Not only can smoking cause these issues and increase dementia risk, but just merely being in the same room and breathing in second-hand smoke can have detrimental effects on the brain. An international study in Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal, conducted on 5,921 men and women over 60 in China found, “that people exposed to smoky air were at greatly increased risk of ‘severe dementia’.” Approximately 10% of the patients studied had dementia. Being a current or former smoker increased the risk of dementia, as well as living within the same household with a smoker.
Another recent study showed that men who smoke had a steadier decline in their memory as they aged, compared to those who don’t smoke. The study also directly correlated second hand smoke exposure to a 29% greater risk of developing severe dementia in old age. After 10 years of quitting, men who stopped had no more rapid memory loss than the men that never smoked.
This shows the direct effect of smoking on the brain. Whether it is neural death, cardiovascular risks, or deprivation of oxygen to the brain, the chemicals in tobacco smoke inhaled into the body do not have positive effects. These toxins starve the body and brain of the necessary oxygen for the cells to promote growth and healthy vascular function. Without these vital functions, the cells are left to die and the brain suffers considerably.
Although conclusive evidence may not exist as to the exact risk factors for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s, it has been proven that smoking causes vascular health issues as well as long-term effects including damage to blood vessels and increased inflammation. Both of these side effects have been linked to brain health and consequently are thought to have a large effect on the development of Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is increasingly believed to be a disease that develops over a span of 10-20 years. More and more studies are being done to find risk factors early on and focus on preventive measures. Once brain cells are damaged, it is considered irreversible. By limiting the damage from environmental sources such as smoking, it can combat the growing issue as the worldwide population ages.
Quitting smoking is just one way to combat the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s. Other simple lifestyle changes can also make a big impact to increase memory and brain function.
Food is very important to the support of a healthy body and mind. Many great “brain foods” have been shown to boost cognitive function. Healthy fats found in fish are great for the brain due to the abundance of EPA and DHA omega-3s (that are ready-made), making it easy for our body to absorb and reap the benefits. Leafy green vegetables and blueberries also have important vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin B6 and B9. These specific B vitamins have been proven to decrease levels of homocysteine in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with stroke, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s.
Stimulate Your Mind
Participating in mental games and activities can also help to keep a sharp memory and cognitive function. One reason for mental decline is the altered connections in the brain cells. Doing puzzles, crosswords, and mental games such as chess can help to build the reserves of the brain cells and keep connections healthy. It may also lead to generating more brain cell connections!
Low levels of education sometimes lead to higher levels of Alzheimer’s later in life. This may be due to a lower level of life-long mental stimulation. Even small changes to your daily routine, like the morning crossword or a walk in the park, can increase mental health.
Social Activity & Exercise
According to Alz.org, people who regularly stay socially engaged maintain better brain vitality. They report, “those who were more physically active, more mentally active, or more socially engaged had a lower risk for developing dementia. And those who combined these activities did even better.” Seeking out opportunities to join groups for exercise, traveling with family or friends, as well as staying active in the workplace are great ways to increase brain activity.
Ginkgo biloba, coconut oil, Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) and B12 can stabilize cognitive function and have been proven to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. These natural supplements give an extra boost to your body and brain to combat the negative effects of dementia and memory loss. These supplements should be added to a healthy diet and not viewed as the only step in a larger process to a well-balanced lifestyle.
I recommend Diamond Nutritionals’ Memory Support Formula. This special, professional grade formulation is widely used to:
- Support Blood Flow To The Brain
- Promote Nerve Conductivity And Normal Cerebral Function
- Support Brain Glucose Uptake
- Maintain Healthy Acetylcholine Levels
Also, to optimize vitamin and mineral levels, I recommend Diamond Nutritional’s Foundation Vitamin Formula. This unique formulation:
- Provides A Full Spectrum Of Highly Absorbed Vitamins and Mineral Chelates
- Uses The Best Vitamin And Mineral Ingredients Available
- Is Formulated Using The Highest Standards To Produce An Efficacious Super Supplement
- Provides An Optimal 2:1 Balance Of Magnesium To Calcium
- Provides Full Spectrum B Vitamins To Boost Energy Levels, Support Stressful Lifestyles, And
- Reduce Homocysteine Levels.
- Contains Vitamin E In Both D-Alpha Tocopherols And Mixed Tocopherols To Increase Free Radical Scavenging Potential
Taking proactive steps to protect your brain against potential damage from smoking, while increasing healthy lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise can have long-lasting impacts on your cognitive function. Keep your mind sharp and memory-loss at bay… start today!