September marks World Azheimers Awareness Month, and today is World Alzheimer’s Day (21st September 2020).
What is Alzheimer’s?
According to the Alzheimer’s Society “Dementia is the broad term used to describe a number of different conditions affecting the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and more.” With Alzheimer’s disease being the most common cause of dementia.
Named after the doctor who first described it, Alois Alzheimer, Alzheimer’s Disease is a physical condition that affects the brain.
The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells that are connected to each other, however, with Alzheimer’s, these connections are lost due to proteins building up and forming abnormal structures. This causes the nerve cells to eventually die and brain tissue is lost.
Additionally, the brain also contains chemicals that help to send messeges between cells. In people with Alzheimer’s these messeges are not passed on so well as they have less of these chemical signals in their brain.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, meaning overtime, more parts of the brain are gradually damaged.
Who gets Alzheimer’s Disease?
Most people with Alzheimer’s Disease developed it after the age of 65, however, those under 65 can also develop it, called Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.
There are many factors that affect the risk of getting Alzheimer’s, some of which you can change, and some which you cannot.
Risk Factors You Can’t Change:
- Age – Above the age of 65 a persons risk of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every 5 years
- Gender – There are around twice as many women as men over 65 with Alzheimer’s
- Genetic Inheritance – More than 20 genes are known to increase / decrease a persons chance of developing Alzheimer’s, therefore, someone with a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s has a slightly higher risk of developing the disease
Risk Factors You Can Change:
- Lifestyle – People who live a healthy lifestyle (especially from mid-life onwards) are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Health problems – Certain health problems can increase a persons risk for Alzheimer’s including: diabetes, stroke, heart problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity in mid-life.
How can I lower my risk of getting Alzheimer’s?
Although there are some risk factors you can’t change (which we’ve listed above), there are certain things you can do in order to help reduce your own risk.
Be Physically Active
Doing regular physical activity is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s as it’s good for your heart, circulation, weight and mental wellbeing. According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent.
You can start with a small amount of exercise and build it up gradually – even 10 minutes at a time is good for you.
Exercise can also reduce your risk of health conditions that are linked to Alzheimer’s, including:
- Diabetes Type 2 – this is due to exercise increasing the insulin sensitivity of your cells, so when you exercise less insulin is needed to keep your blood sugar levels under control
- Stroke – this is because exercise can help lower your cholesterol and keep your blood pressure healthy.
- High Blood Pressure – regular exercise makes your heart stronger which means it can pump more blood with less effort. This means your heart can work less to pump, meaning the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure.
- High Cholesterol – there are two types of cholesterol, Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol as high levels can raise your risk for heart disease. Most of your body’s cholesterol is LDL. Exercise stimulates enzymes that help move LDL from the blood to the liver, where it can be converted to bile for digestion or excretion. Therefore, the more exercise you do, the more LDL your body expels.
- Heart Problems – exercise increases your levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol, which transorts cholesterol from other parts of your body back to the liver for excretion, therefore, lowering your heart disease risk.
- Obesity – regular exercise can help you mantain a healthy weight by burning calories and fat, and increasing your muscle mass, therefore, increasing your metabolism.
If you would like more advice on getting active, book your free consultation with us.
Having a Balanced Diet
A study in the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Journal found that those who ate a healthy diet, with plenty of green vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, and less red meat, may be less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease. Many experts believe this must be complemented with a healthy lifestyle, including keeping a healthy weight, exercising regularly, not smoking, drinking in moderation, and keeping blood pressure healthy.
Smoking can increase the risk of vascular problems, including via strokes and small bleeds in the brain, which are risk factors for dementia. In addition, the toxins in cigarette smoke have been found to increase oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which have been linked to developing Alzheimer’s disease. If you need help to quit smoking, please see the advice on the NHS website.
If you’d like any further information on our ladies only 30 Minute circuit, please get in touch as we’d love to help you reach your goals, keep yourself healthy, and protenct your brain!
Hannah & Caroline xx