Preventing Alzheimer's/Part 4
In this blog we will look at timely topics on the brain. Learn along with a copy from our book series, Healing the Brain. Get your copy today. A Thousand Moms offers workshops to the general public. These workshops are presented in clear, non-complicated language. In New York, Vermont and Massachusetts, please call 518 322-0607 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the author of the acclaimed
Dana Sourcebook of Brain Science.
Memory problems come in all shapes and sizes. Some people tend to forget where they put their cell phone, or cannot easily recall names. Or they can’t recall taking their medication or remember the birthday or anniversary of a loved one. Whether they admit to themselves that their forgetfulness seems to happen with greater frequency or they worry about losing their memory as they age, they are right to be concerned. Because our aging population is on the rise, Alzheimer’s disease (AD)— an irreversible, progressive form of dementia that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills as people age and is ultimately fatal—has steadily risen from about 4 million in the late 1990s to 5.4 million today.
The disease is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the US, but estimates by the National Institute on Aging indicate that it may rank third, just behind heart disease and cancer, as a cause of death for older people. But here is some good news: Whether you want to reverse cognitive deficits now or avoid them later, more and more studies are suggesting that there is much you can do to keep your mind sharp.
While a pharmaceutical approach to preventing AD has proved elusive, practical lifestyle choices to reduce AD are based on good science and good sense. The secret may lie in epigenetics, the effect one’s lifestyle has on one’s genes, and thus on the risk for disease. Of course, the wisdom that lifestyle has an impact on health is not new; we have been reciting adages such as “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” for ages. Research in a variety of areas has confirmed that sensible everyday choices can significantly reduce the risk of AD. According to the National Institutes of Health, $991 million was dedicated to AD research in 2016, but how much of that went towards lifestyle-modification and prevention is unclear.
Pillar 4: Psychological Well-Being
Meditation also enhances psychological well-being (PWB) by promoting acceptance of self and others, increasing self-confidence, reducing negativity, and providing a foundation for independent living, sustained personal growth, socializing with like-minded people, service to others, and aging with purpose. These PWB factors lower the risk for cognitive decline and help reduce cholesterol and inflammation.In fact, Purpose in Life is a new movement in neuroscience that links the belief that one’s life has meaning and purpose to a robust and persistently improved physiological health outcome—not only to treat AD, but also to treat spinal cord injuries, stroke, and immunological and cardiovascular issues that include but extend beyond the brain.
Positive emotions—love, compassion, and appreciation—counteract the physiology of the stress response and support a healthy brain throughout life. Beyond that, PWB may create an enhanced sense of spirituality, which preliminary studies suggest slows the progression of AD.23 Moreover, per Helen Lavretsky, M.D., a geriatric psychiatrist at UCLA, spirituality is a way to develop personalized, patient-centered healthcare. There is evidence of a close relationship between spirituality, cognitive health, and successful aging.
Finally, in a very recent, and as of yet, unpublished three-year study, spirituality was associated with lowered atrophy rates in brain regions related to memory, visuospatial attention, and behavioral deficits in subjects at risk for AD.
As it currently stands, or until the pharmaceutical world can meet the enormous challenge of discovering the magic anecdote that can make amyloid disappear, living a healthy life offers the best chance for aging AD-free and nourishing a sharp mind. Small, easily achieved shifts in one’s daily routine can make all the difference in brain health. If everyone made such shifts, it is likely that the widespread prediction of a continuing Alzheimer’s epidemic would shift, too, with fewer reported cases.
Praise for Healing the Brain
"A book that can help medical professionals as well as the general public, Mr Balog has tackled a subject that is complex and he makes it quite approachable. It has added and enriched my own practice of medicine by making me more aware of issues not often discussed in medical circles."--Peter Paganussi, MD, Virginia
"Author David Balog has done an excellent job of creating a book for educators (or anyone working with youth) that explains the complicated workings of the brain in an easy to understand manner. Balog goes on to discuss various types of trauma and how the adolescent brain responds to trauma such as depression, stress, addiction, risk taking, PTSD, etc. LGBT/Q youth may experience trauma in ways majority youth often do not. The author shares important coping strategies....I highly recommend this book!"--Carol Dopp, M.Ed.
"David Balog understands the strain of alienation, so he tackles this subject with compassion and concern. Mr. Balog draws on his knowledge of brain science to give readers insight into what happens to young people under tremendous stress, and he offers practical advice on how to help and cope."--Gary Cottle, author
"Provides comfort and learning to the reader. Flows easily from one topic to the next and knits tidbits of information together in a unifying mosaic. Easy to read. Difficult to put down." --Michael J. Colucciello, Jr., New York State Dept. of Mental Health researcher, retired.
"Well researched, fleshed out with relevant case histories, this book packs a lot of solid information into its 152 pages. Written in an engaging style for the layman, it covers a wide range of topics. One learns a great deal about the biology of stress, particularly the vulnerability of the brain in the pre-adult years. This book also provides a glossary of key brain science terms and a listing of organizations serving the LGBT /Q community and resources on the brain."--Gary Bordzuk, librarian