Although drugs and research can help to reduce the impact of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study has found that many cases could be avoided through a series of lifestyle changes.
Current statistics show that Alzheimer’s affects 5% of 65 to 74-year-olds, 13% of 75-84-year-olds, and 33.3% of people over the age of 85. With an aging population, it’s estimated that the number of people dealing with the disease will double in the next 25 years.
However, the researchers say that there’s hope for minimizing this growth by using a combination of dietary changes and stress management. The researchers have been optimistic about this approach, claiming that it could help prevent up to 90% of cases.
Ayesha and Dean Sherzai, directors of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda Medical Center claim that people in areas with a higher quality of living, such as Sardinia, Okinawa, and Loma Linda have the lowest rates of the disease.
They say that early lifestyle interventions, like changes in diet and getting better quality sleep can make a big difference, as it can get rid of brain toxins.
In an interview, Dean Sherzai said, “When I was first at Loma Linda University Medical Center in 2008, our data showed that less than 5% of our older patients had dementia. But when we went to communities right next door to Loma Linda, we saw markedly increased rates of dementia and stroke.
This huge disparity confirmed the influence that community and lifestyle have on Alzheimer’s. Our patients in Loma Linda, as you know, have very different lifestyles than the average American: they are Seventh-Day Adventists, eat mostly vegetarian meals, exercise regularly, and have strong family and community ties.”
Ayesha Sherzai added, “We use the NEURO approach since there is not one drug, one vitamin, or one food that will do the trick. It’s your entire lifestyle that makes a difference. Nutrition, stress management, sleep, and physical activity are all important, but it’s very hard for people to change everything at once.”
“That’s why we are very personalized in how we help our patients. If someone has sleep apnea, we might first focus on helping them with that [via] nutrition, weight loss, and exercise. Once they have success in one area, they are then motivated and empowered to improve other areas.”