ESTIMATED READING TIME 5 MINUTES
It’s World Alzheimer’s Month, and a sobering statistic is that one in fourteen people will develop Alzheimer’s by the time they are 65. This figure rises to one in six by age 80.
This year’s theme is Never too Early, Never Too Late, recognising that Alzheimer’s disease takes many years to develop. So it’s not too soon to take steps to reduce your risk, or too late to minimise the progression of the disease. To do this, it pays to be aware of why Alzheimer’s develops.
Read on to learn how you can reduce your risk.
Your brain contains trillions of synapses, little gaps between your brain cells. These help your brain’s neurons send messages to one another.
Scientists have recorded changes in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s. Plaques, formed by clumps of protein called beta-amyloid build up in the brain. In consequence, these damage brain cells and interfere with neuronal communication when they make their way into synapses. On the other hand, tau tangles are formed from a particular protein twisting into unnatural shapes inside brain cells. This interferes with the neurones’ ability to transport nutrients and other essential molecules.
But these plaques and tangles are only part of the story. Without knowing why they form, it’s impossible to take steps to prevent them. But like any chronic disease, Alzheimer’s doesn’t have any one single cause.
Many factors have been linked with the development of Alzheimer’s. These include a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, smoking and alcohol use. It’s also linked with past head injuries, air pollution and uncorrected hearing loss. However, some of these factors share underlying causes.
Scientists believe Alzheimer’s is connected with an imbalance in the brain’s neuroplasticity signalling. This refers to the making and breaking of the synaptic connections between brain cells. This process rewires your brain in response to what you experience of the outside world. New connections are constantly being made between brain cells. This is exciting as it means your brain is not static, but constantly adapting.
But if synapse-removing processes happen too rapidly while synapse-producing activity can’t keep pace, there will eventually be a loss of synaptic connections. It’s believed this may happen in Alzheimer’s.
The decline in brain function begins many years before Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed and is often put down to the ageing process.
Dr Dale Bredesen, an expert in the natural management of Alzheimer’s, believes the disease can be broadly categorised into six sub-types.
Amyloid-beta plaque formation may be a protective response to these various triggers. Simply removing or inhibiting the plaques without addressing the underlying reasons why they have formed won’t have any lasting benefit. There are often multiple factors involved.
To maximise brain health, a multi-pronged approach is needed. Depending on your particular circumstances – and you are unique – the following strategies may be recommended:
It’s never too late to think about protecting your brain, but it’s never too early to adopt brain-healthy lifestyle habits. We are here to help and guide you. If you want to optimise your cognitive function, or if you’re concerned about a loved one, contact us today.
Do you need personalised natural support for your cognitive health? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.
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