The Lifestyle Choices You Can Make to Prevent Alzheimer’s

Question: Are there any ways to prevent Alzheimer’s?

Gary Small: Right now, we don’t know the true cause for most cases of Alzheimer’s. There are some very rare cases where there is a genetic mutation, but for most people it’s not so clear cut. There are genetic risks, but there is also lifestyle issues that we’re beginning to learn about, so for example people who exercise regularly, get a lot of cardiovascular conditioning have a lower risk for getting Alzheimer’s disease. It’s probably that mental activity may protect us. Healthy diet, what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain, so a Mediterranean diet protects against Alzheimer’s disease. So there are many factors and there is probably drugs that people take that may protect against Alzheimer’s. Possible that anti-inflammatory drugs, maybe statins to lower cholesterol. We don’t know for sure so we don’t recommend these as preventive treatments. There is a lot we have to learn yet and the cause has not been pinpointed entirely, but there are a lot of interesting theories. There are little fibular protein deposits in the brain amyloid plaques and tangles that some people believe are causative. Oxidation may be an issue and so that’s why antioxidant foods as well as antioxidant vitamins may protect the brain and I think inflammation in the brain is also another key factor.

Question: Can you explain how inflammation is related to Alzheimer’s?

Gary Small: Basically inflammation is a process to correct problems in the body, so you know you get an inflammatory reaction if let’s say you get a splinter in your finger. It gets red. Cells attack the foreign body and this can go on anywhere in the body. What we find in Alzheimer’s disease there are these little amyloid plaques where there are elements of inflammation, little cells and debris that tells us that there in an inflammatory reaction. Now it’s possible that the abnormal insoluble plaque deposits create the inflammation, so the brain is trying to rid itself of the plaque or maybe there is something else going on, so we see that process in the brain and that’s why some of the strategies have involved using anti-inflammatory drugs to try to protect the brain.

There are everyday steps you can take—from anti-inflammatory drugs to a Mediterranean diet—that can reduce your chances of developing the disease.

Malcolm Gladwell live | How to re-examine everything you know

Join Radiolab's Latif Nasser at 1pm ET today as he chats with Malcolm Gladwell live on Big Think.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to your calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

Ever wonder how LSD works? An answer has been discovered.

UNC School of Medicine researchers identified the amino acid responsible for the trip.

Credit: Motortion Films / Shutterstock
Surprising Science
  • Researchers at UNC's School of Medicine have discovered the protein responsible for LSD's psychedelic effects.
  • A single amino acid—part of the protein, Gαq—activates the mind-bending experience.
  • The researchers hope this identification helps shape depression treatment.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists uncover the brain circuitry that causes mysterious dissociative experiences

A team of researchers have discovered the brain rhythmic activity that can split us from reality.

Mind & Brain
  • Researchers have identified the key rhythmic brain activity that triggers a bizarre experience called dissociation in which people can feel detached from their identity and environment.
  • This phenomena is experienced by about 2 percent to 10 percent of the population. Nearly 3 out of 4 individuals who have experienced a traumatic event will slip into a dissociative state either during the event or sometime after.
  • The findings implicate a specific protein in a certain set of cells as key to the feeling of dissociation, and it could lead to better-targeted therapies for conditions in which dissociation can occur.
Keep reading Show less

There are 5 eras in the universe's lifecycle. Right now, we're in the second era.

Astronomers find these five chapters to be a handy way of conceiving the universe's incredibly long lifespan.

Image source: Pablo Carlos Budassi
Surprising Science
  • We're in the middle, or thereabouts, of the universe's Stelliferous era.
  • If you think there's a lot going on out there now, the first era's drama makes things these days look pretty calm.
  • Scientists attempt to understand the past and present by bringing together the last couple of centuries' major schools of thought.
Keep reading Show less

To be a great innovator, learn to embrace and thrive in uncertainty

Innovators don't ignore risk; they are just better able to analyze it in uncertain situations.

David McNew/Getty Images
Personal Growth
Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, was America's first female self-made millionaire.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast