My Aunt, who was a prominent dress designer in New York City, suffered and died from Alzheimer’s disease. She was such a delight in her younger years. However, because her schedule was so challenging, she often ate the wrong types of foods… lots of high cholesterol and fatty foods, which caused atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries and restricts the amount of oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. We generally think of atherosclerosis as a condition of the heart, but there is a lot of evidence that strongly associates it with Alzheimer’s disease. Instead of cholesterol-filled plaques in your arteries, plaques made of a substance called amyloid develop in the brain tissue itself, associated with the loss of memory and eventually, loss of life.
Unlike a problem with your foot or your back or even another vital organ, brain disease can attack your feeling of self-worth. Alzheimer’s disease kills nearly 85,000 American each year. It is one of the most physically and emotionally burdensome diseases, for both suffers and caregivers. Unlike a stoke, which can kill instantly and without any warning, Alzheimer’s involves a slower, more subtle decline over years.
A senior scientist at the Center for Alzheimer’s Research in a review article stated, “Alzheimer’s Disease is Incurable but Preventable.” Diet and lifestyle changes could potentially prevent millions of cases a year. There is an emerging consensus that “what is good for our hearts is also good for our heads,” because clogging of the arteries inside of the brain with atherosclerotic plaques is thought to play an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
In 2014 an article was written and published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging. It stated that “vegetables, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), fruits, and whole grains should replace meats and dairy products as the primary staples in the diet.”
Autopsies have shown repeatedly that Alzheimer’s patients tend to have a higher build up of plaque and narrowing of the arteries within the brain. This can drastically reduce the amount of blood, and therefore the amount of oxygen your brain receives. Eating more vegetables and leading a healthier life style which includes exercise, meditation, and a positive attitude toward life may therefore be very useful in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Does the treatment of vascular risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol make a difference? Researchers at the Center for Alzheimer’s Research followed 400 people with cognitive impairment for four years using a CT scan that evaluates the amount of brain artery blockage. Those with the least amount of plaque in their heads remained relatively stable over the years. Those, however with more cholesterol buildup got worse and those with the most blockage rapidly declined. Their ability to carry on the activities of daily living was affected. An inefficient blood supply to the brain has very grave consequences on brain function.
A recent study of 300 patients with Alzheimer’s were studied. Those with all their vascular risk factor treated showed significantly less decline. Their progression of their disease was slowed down, compared with those who went untreated.
Dr. Michael Greger, after reviewing these facts stated that the “goal of medicine is to provide patients with hope and when there is no hope, to offer understanding.” Today, we can offer patients with Alzheimer’s hope. We can offer you a plan to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. We can offer your loved ones with Alzheimer’s a means to slow down the progression of the disease.