I was fortunate to recently attend Annual Education Conference on Alzheimer’s, presented by the Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area. It was truly eye-opening, and here is some of the information from the Conference...
The keynote speaker was Dr Richard S. Isaacson, Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic, Weill Cornell Memory Disorders Program at Weill Cornell Medical College/New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He was fascinating, and he shared some of the latest information on Alzheimer’s. Right now, he estimates that 46 million people have pre-clinical Alzheimer’s—that is, they don’t have symptoms, yet it is already in the brain.
Of particular note is that Alzheimer’s in now considered a life-course disease; prevention starts with pregnancy, with a diet that is high in B-Complex vitamins, as recommended by the mother’s prenatal provider.
If prevention starts in pregnancy, then the question arises of what one can do now, given one’s age and health status? There are both factors that can’t be modified, and those that can. The ones that can’t be modified include age, family history, past medical history, level of education achieved, past head injury, gender, race. Those that can be modified include oral care (brushing, flossing and every 6 month checkups), dietary patterns, physical exercise, cognitive engagement, sleep patterns, hobbies, stress reduction, musical activities…and the #1 thing to do is to modify one’s risk for cardio-vascular disease by lowering blood pressure, stopping smoking, lowering cholesterol and being diligent about diabetes care, if one is diabetic. Even small changes today can help over decades.
In the realm of dietary information presented was the type of diet to follow—and he recommended a Mediterranean-style diet, with lots of green leafy vegetables and seafood. He also recommended using an olive oil from California, as others aren’t as pure. Red meat should come from an animal that is grass fed. A half-cup of blueberries 2-3 times/week can delay the onset of cognitive delay by 2 years. The Mayo Clinic also found that if one eats less than 2100 calories/day, the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) decreases by 50%! Using agave as a sweetener instead of sugar, and monitoring how much sugar one eats can both help reduce inflammation...the more inflammation in the brain, the more memory decreases.
There are Alzheimer’s Prevention Trials and research going on now…some right here at LSU! Learn about a study going on at LSU by clicking HERE.
Dr. Isaacson sees the future of Alzheimer’s care as a “personalized, precision medicine” approach—involving the whole person, their lifestyle, genetic makeup. To learn even more about what Dr. Isaacson presented, please visit the Alzheimer’s Universe website: www.alzu.org. There you’ll find information, videos, and resources for everyone. The Prevention Section is particularly informative.