Dr. Paul Block: Reduce Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

Eat fish and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A diet rich in omega-3 oils has been found to be neuroprotective and results in reduced dementia. A Tufts University study has shown that people with the highest DHEA levels, who ate an average of three servings of fish per week, had reduced the risk of dementia by nearly 40% compared with those with low DHEA levels in the blood. Some studies have shown that increasing omega 3s in the diet can even reverse  some signs of senility. Other studies have shown that we can lower our risk of stroke by 50% by eating at least two servings of salmon per week. Research has also shown that people who eat the highest amount of seafood also have the lowest rates of depression. Omega 3s tend to act like serotonin-boosting drugs, producing mood stabilizing and antidepressant effects but without the unpleasant side effects associated with drug therapy.

Uncontrolled high blood sugar enhances the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Because the brain can’t store glucose, it relies on a steady supply of it from the bloodstream. Steady blood sugar results in steady neurotransmitter function and delivery of nutrients that brains need for repair. Eating small nutritious mini-meals throughout the day is more brain friendly than eating fewer larger meals.

Alcoholics suffer various degrees of dementia because alcohol easily dissolves in fatty tissue and the brain is mostly fat. The power of alcohol to intoxicate is related to its properties as a solvent. It can dissolve the fatty walls of brain-cell membrane. Alcohol decreases the concentrations of DHA in brain cell membranes and explains the increased dementia risk.

Chemical food additives used in processed foods, such as preservatives to prolong shelf life or to enhance flavor or add color to make the product more attractive, are potential neurotoxins. Some of these chemical additives have the potential to damage brain cell mitochondria. This can result in throwing neurotransmitter activity out of balance and contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. It stands to reason that  more artificial chemicals in your brain increase your chances of having chemical imbalance.

Exercise and positive attitudes also can reduce Alzheimer’s risk.  Movement stimulates nerve growth factor, the nutrients that repair worn-out or damaged nerve cells. It also increases blood flow to the brain. This helps to slow down, and even perhaps reverse, the degenerative effects of brain aging. The increased bloodflow during vigorous exercise stimulates the brain to secrete endorphins and other “happy hormones” that have a natural calming effect. Feed your mind with positive thoughts as much as possible. PET scans show that different areas of the brain are activated in response to positive and negative attitudes and thoughts. Positive thoughts enhance brain-growth hormones, dopamine and serotonin that enhance the ability to repair brain cell and grow new ones. Low-level’s of these hormones that are often found in chronic depression increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The risk of Alzheimer’s disease also increases with a person’s increase in belly fat.  Frightening statistics indicate that as many as 33% of seniors ages 75 to 80 and as many as 50% of those over age 85 may develop Alzheimer’s disease. Although Alzheimer’s cannot yet be cured, it can be largely prevented and slowed. Lifestyle, exercise, attitude and nutrition are key elements. The earlier in life one initiates a strategic approach, the more effective the outcome will be.


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