World Alzheimer’s Day: Mediterranean diet, active lifestyle may help arrest Alzheimer’s risk

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive mental disorder that only exacerbates with age. The fatal disease strikes Nearly 5.1 million Americans in a year, according to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

Alzheimer’s causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. The World Alzheimer’s Day is observed on September 21 every year to raise awareness about the disease and to challenge the associated stigma.

A healthy and balanced diet, coupled with regular exercise, can keep many diseases, including mental disorders, at bay. A recent study, titled “Modifiable Risk Factors and Brain Positron Emission Tomography Measures of Amyloid and Tau in Nondemented Adults with Memory Complaints,” has suggested how people facing problems in remembering things can prevent the disorder from worsening by following a Mediterranean diet or by following regular exercise regimen.

The authors of the study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in September 2016, said that people with a normal body mass index (BMI) were less likely to experience accumulation of beta-amyloid and tau proteins in the brain, believed to be indicators of Alzheimer’s.

Healthy lifestyle reduces levels of plaques and tangles in brain

Studies have indicated that beta-amyloid builds up to form a cluster forming plaques between nerve cells that weaken signaling quality, while tau forms tangles that impair the functioning of nerve cells. The researchers analyzed 44 participants, aged between 40 and 85 years. Of the total, 24 were afflicted with subjective memory damage, while the rest 20 had been suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The researchers found that none of the participants had been detected with dementia.

The participants were inquired about their level of physical activity and the extent to which they followed a Mediterranean diet. The respondents were also required to self-report about their BMI. The scientists carried out a novel type of PET scan known as FDDNP-PET on the participants to evaluate levels of beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles in their brains.

It was found that the respondents with a healthy BMI or those who adhered to a Mediterranean diet and had been involved in regular physical activity had decreased levels of plaques and tangles in their brains when compared to those with differing lifestyle factors.

Stressing on how adopting a healthy lifestyle goes a long way in having a healthy brain in the later stages of life, the authors of the study said, “The study reinforces the importance of living a healthy life to prevent Alzheimer’s, even before the development of clinically significant dementia.”

Patients can work towards preventing degradation of memory problems

Prior studies had indicated the advantages of a Mediterranean diet and the impact of lifestyle on Alzheimer’s. The findings of the latest study laid stress on how existence of such factors can influence the accumulation of Alzheimer’s-related proteins in the brains of those suffering from MCI.

Elucidating this, lead author of the study Dr. David Merrill of the University of California, Los Angeles said, “The fact that we could detect this influence of lifestyle at a molecular level before the beginning of serious memory problems surprised us.”

The observations help get a comprehensive understanding of how patients can work towards preventing degradation of their memory problems.

Available remedial measures

Alzheimer’s patients feel lost and lonely as they realize their growing inability to hold on to their memories of the past. Though reversing the impact of Alzheimer’s is not possible in most cases, physicians recommend certain measures that can slow down the pace of deterioration.

A balanced and active lifestyle is central to the well-being of both the mind and body. If you or our loved one is battling some form of mental disorder, get connected to the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to learn about the best mental health programs in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online with one of our mental health experts for more information on mental health counseling programs.