Alzheimer’s disease is now one of the most common causes of death in the United States, and it is fast becoming a major killer throughout the world. With more people living longer, individuals may start preventive measures early to lower their chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. We spoke with Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani who shed light on what we know about some of the risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease based on current research. “There is a lot of evidence that certain factors, such as race, family history, age, and genetics, are linked with Alzheimer’s disease. These, however, are not changeable elements,” says Dr. Khubchandani. He goes through several modifiable risk-reduction variables in order to decrease the chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease at an earlier age.
1 — Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drug Use
Alcohol, tobacco, and some other drugs (ATOD) abuse continue to be a major global public health concern. “The chemicals in ATOD can directly influence the brain structure and function,” according to Dr. Khubchandani, “and increased abuse can lower the age at which Alzheimer’s disease begins.” He explains that long-term and excess use of ATOD can change signal transmission, decrease brain volume and can also cause behavioral problems that raise the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. “People should also be aware that ATOD use is connected with heart and lung problems, which are necessary for good brain function and blood circulation. As a result, continuous long-term ATOD usage might inadvertently raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”
2 — Obesity: Sedentary Lifestyle and Poor Diet
Obesity and Alzheimer’s disease risk are two topics about which there has been a lot of debate. “More recently, large-scale, long-term research has shown that individuals who gain weight early in life have an increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.” Khubchandani explains further “Given the preventive action of a healthy diet and exercise against Alzheimer’s disease, the link between obesity and risk of Alzheimer’s disease also appears to make sense,” according to the World Health Organization guidelines and other stringent research. Staying active and exercising on a regular basis has been shown in studies to improve brain function and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or related diseases. Obesity, poor eating habits, and sedentary lifestyles are associated with higher insulin and inflammation resistance in the body; signs of impending brain and heart damage. Also, staying in shape and exercising for longer reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The consumption of a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts is associated with a decreased risk of obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. “Obesity, diet, exercise, and a variety of illnesses are all intricately linked via indirect and direct mechanisms of action,” adds Khubchandani. “People should eat more fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and nuts while reducing their intake of salty, sugary foods high in saturated fat.” MIND diets, according to studies, are highly beneficial in helping people enhance their brain health and have the essential qualities for a healthy diet. “It requires enough blood supply and nutrition to maintain long-term healthy brain function, and efforts to improve your diet or exercise now will have a long-term multiplicative positive impact on your brain health,” says Khubchandani.
3 — Hypertension
High blood pressure affects roughly half of all Americans, but most are unaware of it or unable to control it. High blood pressure has negative effects on our body’s organs and systems, in particular the brain. “High blood pressure, especially for the brain, can damage the blood vessels that supply parts of the brain responsible for memory and thinking,” according to Khubchandani. The earlier you can get your blood pressure checked and control it, the less likely you are to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to Dr. Janssen. High blood pressure can also induce a stroke-like brain assault that causes dementia.