The Truth About Alzheimer’s
By: Dr. Tim Cook, FRCPC, MPH, DTMH
January is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and, during a time when many of us resolve to be happier and healthier, it’s fitting to review what we know about this feared disease and the steps that we can all take now to help prevent it.
Alzheimer’s Disease is on the rise.
Today, 747,000 Canadians are living with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. By 2031, this number will increase to 1.4 million. 72% of all Canadians diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are women. The annual cost of dementia will increase from $33 billion today to $293 billion by 2040.
Lifestyle > Genetics:
Fewer than 7% of cases are attributed to genetics. While the APOE-e4 gene mutation is an important risk factor, it doesn’t explain this dramatic rise in brain dysfunction. Rather, cognitive impairment has risen in lockstep with the epidemics of obesity and type 2 Diabetes.
Alzheimer’s Disease remains incurable.
However, medications, support and care early in the disease can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
The determinants of a healthy brain include:
Good blood supply; adequate oxygen levels; mitochondrial function (“battery packs” in the brain and in other cells); normal metabolic and nutrient support; and, stimulation and relaxation to build strong neural networks.
Testing for Alzheimer’s Disease:
– Physical: Waste circumference, weight; Laboratory: Blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, vascular inflammation markers, hormones, nutrient and vitamin levels. Imaging: A CardioHealth cardiovascular risk assessment (non-invasive carotid artery ultrasound)—available at P3 Health—detects early signs of vascular disease and impaired blood flow to the brain.
– Mental: Cognitive testing, including mini-mental state exam (MMSE) and mini-cog.
– Genetic: Blood test for APOE-e4, the strongest risk gene for Alzheimer’s. Carrying this gene mutation only indicates a greater risk; it does not indicate whether a person will develop Alzheimer’s or whether a person has Alzheimer’s.
To prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, practice brain health:
– Visit your doctor regularly.
– Stop smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
– Avoid excess alcohol.
– Maintain a healthy weight and body fat percentage.
– Eat a primarily plant-based diet with restricted carbohydrates.
– Supplement your diet with antioxidants, fish oil and vitamins.
– Get your “numbers” checked, including weight, blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.
– If you have diabetes (or pre-diabetes), high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, you must get them under control.
– Exercise regularly, and in different ways. (This includes a healthy sex life!)
– Minimize stress. Studies have found that mindfulness meditation, yoga, and other contemplative practices increase your ability to manage stress and lead to better moods overall. Seek professional assistance to address anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns.
– Get enough sleep. Inadequate sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea can result in memory and thinking problems.
– Train your brain with crossword puzzles, scrabble and sudoku. Use it or lose it!
** Note: This lifestyle will also improve your overall health, well-being and longevity!
ABOUT DR. TIM COOK: Dr. Cook is an Internal Medicine Specialist, and P3 Health’s Medical Director. Dr. Cook has over 26 years in the field, specializing in cardiovascular disease risk management, metabolic disease and preventive health.Leave a reply →