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Six lifestyle changes that can delay Alzheimer’s disease from a sick neurologist

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For most people, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease will be catastrophic. But Dr. Daniel Gibbs is not the majority. He is a neurologist and not only has a professional understanding of the condition, but also happens to have early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Gibbs admits he’s “disappointed” with the illness, but says he’s also “fascinated” by the illness and thinks he’s lucky. He came across his diagnosis 10 years ago before developing cognitive symptoms (Gibbs underwent a DNA test to track his ancestors, revealing a genetic link to Alzheimer’s disease). .. This eventually gave him the opportunity to work on it very early on.

“It’s easy to say that I’m unlucky with Alzheimer’s disease,” says Gibbs. “But in reality, I was lucky to find what I found when I found it.”

As a result, the now 69-year-old American neurologist has devoted his life to studying the disease and what can be done to slow its progression. He now describes his findings in a new book-My Brain Tattoo: A Neurologist’s Personal Fight against Alzheimer’s Disease. This reveals lifestyle choices. Early stage. And early on, he means before symptoms appear (Alzheimer’s disease can cause brain changes before cognitive signs appear, Gibbs points out).

He says it’s still working, but Gibbs started having trouble remembering his colleague’s name about nine years ago and soon began to develop cognitive symptoms when he retired. He is currently experiencing increasing short-term memory problems and often cannot remember what he did an hour ago, so he needs to write down all his plans and pay close attention. Still, he claims, “Most people wouldn’t know I had Alzheimer’s disease.”

Gibbs believes that lifestyle changes made since the diagnosis helped slow the progression of the disease, and said that such lifestyle measures also seem to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the first place. I will. “The important message is that all of these changes are likely to be most effective when started early before the onset of cognitive impairment,” he says.

“The pathological changes in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s disease begin years before the onset of cognitive impairment-up to 20 years for amyloid plaques. Life begins when nerve cells in the brain begin to die and cognitive impairment begins. Style changes, if any, have little impact. “

Gibbs said the same probably applies to drugs, adding that “the time to intervene in both lifestyle changes and potential drugs is almost certainly early before serious cognitive impairment occurs.” It was.

The Alzheimer’s Association has not seen Gibbs’s book, but the association’s chief knowledge officer, Dr. Tim Beanland, agrees that healthy lifestyle measures are believed to help slow the progression of the disease. To do. “There is increasing evidence that regular exercise, health care, and maintenance of mental and social activity can help slow the progression of dementia symptoms,” says Beanland.

“We know that what is good for the heart is good for the brain, so a healthy diet and lifestyle, including smoking and drinking too much alcohol, is another condition such as dementia, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Helps reduce the risk of some cancers. “

Here Gibbs outlines the six steps he says can be taken by people to reduce risk and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease at a very early stage.

1. Exercise

Gibbs says there is overwhelming evidence that regular aerobic exercise reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and slows the progression of the disease by as much as 50% in the early stages. Evidence of the beneficial effects of exercise is solid, except in the late stages of the illness, which may be too late to intervene.

2. Eat a plant-based diet

A plant-based Mediterranean-style diet seems to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Evidence is most compelling about a variant of the Mediterranean diet called the MIND diet (Mediterranean intervention in delayed neurodegeneration), which emphasizes the addition of other foods rich in green vegetables, berries, nuts, and flavanols.

3. Mental stimulating activity

Games and puzzles may help, but challenging the brain with new learning is especially important. This is because it is believed to help develop new neural pathways and synapses. Examples include reading, learning to play new songs, and learning a new language.

4. Social involvement

This can be difficult for people living with Alzheimer’s disease, as indifference is often part of the disease. There is evidence that those who remain socially active are slow to progress.

5. Get enough sleep

This is a new field of study. There appears to be brain purification of toxins, including beta-amyloid during sleep, a protein that forms sticky plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, through so-called glymphatic circulation. In addition, sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, are common in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and need to be treated if present.

6. Diabetes and hypertension treatment

Both of these disorders (diabetes and hypertension) can not only exacerbate Alzheimer’s disease in the brain, but can also cause vascular dementia, a condition that often coexists with Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, it is also important to detect these issues early and ensure that they are properly managed.

  • My Brain Tattoo: Teresa H. Barker and Daniel Gibbs’ personal fight against Alzheimer’s disease was published by the Cambridge University Press on May 6th.

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