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Alzheimer's: Dr Chris discusses the early signs of condition

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The number of people living with dementia is expected to rise from 50 million to 152 million by 2050. Dementia is an umbrella term for diseases that cause impaired ability to remember or make decisions and it interferes with even the most simple activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, contributing to 60 to 70 percent of all dementia cases, and there are several factors that can increase the likelihood of you developing Alzheimer’s. Express.co.uk chatted to the UK’s leading nutritionist and award-winning author, Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD to find out the top seven risk factors and what you can do to reduce the likelihood of you or someone else developing Alzheimer’s.

The 7 things that increase your risk of dementia

Unhealthy diet

It is extremely important that you eat well, as your mind and body are very much connected.

Dr Glenville said: “We know from research that eating a Mediterranean diet leads to less memory loss and/or problems with concentration.

“We also know that the Mediterranean diet is important for helping to keep your heart healthy, and this is just as important for your brain.

“The risks for Alzheimer’s are increased by many of the same conditions that damage your heart and blood vessels e.g. heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, so it is important that you do your best to follow a balanced, deltasone oklahoma healthy diet, to reduce the risk.”

Lack of sleep

Too little sleep increases your risk for Alzheimer’s, so it’s time to make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye every night.

Dr Glenville explained: “Beta-amyloid protein is cleared away during sleep when your cerebrospinal fluid washes out toxins from your body.

“You should try to aim for six to eight hours of sleep most nights.”

Lack of exercise

Physical activity is very important for healthy brain function, as well as physical fitness.

Dr Glenville cited one study that tracked a group of people over eight years.

She said: “The researchers found that those who were the most active had a 30 percent lower risk of cognitive decline, and the amount of exercise made a bigger difference than the intensity.
“So, with walking, the distance walked was more important than the pace.

“Some experts have even linked strength training with a lower risk of cognitive decline because parts of the brain grow as your muscles do!

“Researchers suggest that the positive effects of exercise on cognitive function occur because exercise can increase hippocampal volume, reversing age-related loss in volume by one to two years. (The hippocampus is the part of your brain that shrinks as a symptom of Alzheimer’s.)”

As your body needs regular exercise, your brain needs regular exercise too.

Dr Glenville advises keeping your brain fit by playing cards and chess games, reading books, doing crosswords, learning an instrument or new language or simply by pursuing a new hobby.

Medications

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a medication to help reduce acid reflux, and they are now thought to increase the risk of developing dementia by 44 per cent because they increase the level of beta-amyloid in the brain.

Dr Glenville added: “There are several other over-the-counter medicines which include anticholinergics – found in treatments for colds, flu, heartburn, sleep problems – that block the chemical acetylcholine that your body needs to transmit electrical impulses between nerve cells.

“Recent research shows that those people taking these drugs have reduced brain volume (known as brain shrinkage) and they performed less well on memory tests.

“Try to only use over-the-counter medicine unless you really need them and if you are on prescription medicine, ask your doctor if there are any other alternatives.”

Family history

You may have a strong family history risk of Alzheimer’s, so it is important to think about dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your chances of developing the condition yourself.

Dr Glenville said: “You may worry that Alzheimer’s is in your genes, and some genes do directly cause early-onset Alzheimer’s affecting those people aged between 30 and 60.

“However, genetics are responsible for less than five per cent of all Alzheimer’s cases.”

It’s important to remember that if you have a strong family history of Alzheimer’s, it is not inevitable that you are going to develop the problem!

The expert stressed: “It is important to work on prevention and it’s never too early to start.”

Vitamin D deficiency

We have known for many years that vitamin D is important for bone health and in the prevention of osteoporosis.

However, Dr Glenville said: “It is only in recent years that we have realised how important this nutrient is for general health, particularly for brain health.

“We get most of our vitamin D quota from sunlight because natural food sources are few.

“Research has shown that if you are moderately deficient in vitamin D, you have a 69 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s and the risk increases to 122 per cent in those who are severely deficient.

“Choose vitamin D in the form of D3, also called cholecalciferol.

“There is a cheaper form, called D2 (ergocalciferol), but research suggests that vitamin D3 is 87 per cent more effective at raising and maintaining your vitamin D levels than vitamin D2.”

Stress

Unfortunately, stress increases your risk of Alzheimer’s, so you’ll need to minimise it as much as possible.

You may think that you can’t control stress, but Dr Glenville said you can control how it affects you physically and you can make sure you are not exacerbating it.

Dr Glenville said: “There is a chance that your pattern of eating is subconsciously telling your body that it is under even more stress.

“The reason is that if your blood sugar levels fluctuate, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol, which are the same hormones it releases when you are under stress.

“Try to keep your blood sugar levels stable by eating something every three hours and be careful if you are drinking a lot of coffee.

“Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a snack mid-morning and one mid-afternoon, with no longer than three hours between.

“This will stop those roller-coaster highs and lows and cravings for sweet foods.”

To find out more about how to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Dr Marilyn Glenville will be hosting an exclusive live webinar and Q & A on Tuesday, September 7 at 7pm, taking you through her ‘7 Step Brain Protection Plan’. For more information and tickets, visit here.

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