Protective factors that prevent Alzheimer’s disease and limit its progression

100 years ago, the German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer described the presence of cerebral lesions in the brain of a 51-year-old woman who died after five years of demented behavior, characterized by a progressive loss of intellectual functions, hallucinations and serious disorders. of social behavior.

Considered rare at that time, what is now called Alzheimer’s disease represents an increasingly important medical problem and its impact will grow with the progressive aging of the population: it is estimated that 24 million people in the world are currently affected by one form or another of dementia, with 4.5 million new cases being added each year, or a new case every seven seconds.

Is this progression inevitable? Are there concrete ways that could help slow the development of this disease?

It has been known for several years that a poor diet affects not only physical well-being, but also mental health. For example, a lack of certain amino acids or essential fats, such as omega-3, can lead to various disorders, including depression, apathy, anxiety and even several violent behavior disorders.

High cholesterol: a factor that promotes the onset of Alzheimer’s disease

Although it is well established that various genetic factors make some people particularly susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease, recent observations indicate that many aspects of lifestyle, including the nature of diet, can greatly influence the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. disease. For example, there is growing evidence that high blood cholesterol is a risk factor for the development of the disease. In fact, research indicates that anything that lowers this rate significantly improves the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease and delays its development.

Obesity: a major risk factor

Obesity also seems to be a factor that promotes the development of Alzheimer’s disease: obese people have high levels of a protein in their blood that participates in the destruction of nerve cells, a key phenomenon in the progressive loss of intellectual functions. This relationship between obesity and Alzheimer’s disease is particularly alarming when one considers the current strong growth in the number of obese people in the population.

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Foods that help fight Alzheimer’s: Oily fish, green tea and (a little) red wine

To function properly, nerve cells need certain fats, in particular omega-3 fatty acids, which ensure good transmission of nerve impulses and thus support the various brain functions necessary for complex activities such as learning and memory. . Moreover, studies carried out among different population groups indicate that people who consume large quantities of fatty fish, a major source of omega-3, develop Alzheimer’s disease less often than those who do not. only rarely. This beneficial effect of omega-3 fatty acids remains to be better understood but would be linked to the fact that a dietary intake of these fats manages to reduce the deterioration of nerve cells, responsible for Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies carried out over the years also show that people who regularly drink small amounts of red wine or those who often drink green tea are less affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

In both cases, this protective effect would be linked to the exceptional content of these beverages in certain polyphenols (resveratrol for red wine and EGCG for green tea), these molecules reducing the risk of developing the disease by lowering the amount of proteins involved in the formation of senile plaques. Finally, even if the currently available data are still incomplete, it is interesting to note that other food sources particularly rich in polyphenols, such as black currants and blueberries, have also been suggested as foods that can delay the development of the disease. Alzheimer’s.

Games, readings, brain and physical activity do a lot of good

People aged 65 to 79 who exercise regularly have about 40% less chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, this effect is also observed in people who have a genetic predisposition to this disease.

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However, the beneficial effect of exercise is not restricted to physical exertion.

Mental effort would also delay the onset of the disease. Whether reading, doing crosswords or Sudoku, playing cards, board games or a musical instrument, participation in activities requiring brain effort seems to be associated with better retention. intellectual abilities. It is therefore better to use your brain than to lose it!

Be that as it may, the dramatic effect of our lifestyle habits on the development of a disease as serious as Alzheimer’s disease illustrates once again how much our lifestyle, in particular our diet, can have a decisive impact on our well-being, both physical and mental.


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