What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of dementia cases.
Prevalence of Alzheimer’s:
- An estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2018. This number includes an estimated 5.5 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
- One in 10 people age 65 and older (10 percent) has Alzheimer’s dementia.
- Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
- Older African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites.
- Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites.
As the number of older Americans grows rapidly, so too will the number of new and existing cases of Alzheimer’s. Today, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds. By mid-century, someone in the United States will develop the disease every 33 seconds.
Although current scientific evidence is incomplete, substantial evidence suggests that, a combination of healthful diet steps and regular physical exercise may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. These lifestyle changes present additional benefits, particularly for body weight, cardiovascular health, and diabetes risk, and essentially no risk of harm. At the International Conference on Nutrition and the Brain, Washington, DC, July 19–20, 2013, speakers were asked to comment on possible guidelines for Alzheimer’s disease prevention, with an aim of developing a set of practical, albeit preliminary, steps to be recommended to members of the public.
From this discussion, 7 guidelines emerged related to healthful diet and exercise habits:
Guideline #1: Minimize saturated fat intake
Minimize your intake of saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fat is found primarily in dairy products, meats, and certain oils (coconut and palm oils). Trans fats are found in many snack pastries and fried foods and are listed on labels as “partially hydrogenated oils.”
Guideline #2: Adopt a plant-based diet
Vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, and whole grains should replace meats and dairy products as primary staples of the diet.
Guideline #3: Choose a Vitamin E source from food vs supplements
Vitamin E should come from foods, rather than supplements. Healthful food sources of vitamin E include seeds, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin E is 15 mg per day.
Guideline #4: Vitamin B12 supplementation
A reliable source of vitamin B12, such as fortified foods or a supplement providing at least the recommended daily allowance (2.4 μg per day for adults), should be part of your daily diet. Have your blood levels of vitamin B12 checked regularly as many factors, including age, may impair absorption.
Guideline #5: No iron supplementation
If using multiple vitamins, choose those without iron and copper and consume iron supplements only when directed by your physician.
Guideline #6: Avoid aluminum exposure
Although aluminum’s role in Alzheimer’s disease remains a matter of investigation, those who desire to minimize their exposure can avoid the use of cookware, antacids, baking powder, or other products that contain aluminum.
Guideline #7: Aerobic exercise
Include aerobic exercise in your routine, equivalent to 40 minutes of brisk walking 3 times per week.
- Dietary and lifestyle guidelines for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0197458014003480
- What Is Alzheimer’s? (https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers)
- Facts and Figures (https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures)
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