Alzheimer’s: Genes or Lifestyle?
The body of evidence points more and more to the great influence of environmental, dietary and lifestyle factors over genetic mutations on the likelihood of neurodegenerative diseases.
Two such diseases are Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s which fall under the umbrella of dementia. They cause loss of memory, ability to think, communicate or interact as well as a progressive deterioration leading to neuronal death.
It is believed that early therapeutic interventions such as:
- good sleeping habits
- social connection
can reduce or prevent the appearance of symptoms. Each of these interventions is addressed in detail in my previous article on brain health.
Inevitable or Preventable?
Researchers Dean & Ayesha Sherzai have devoted years of study to Alzheimer’s for their book The Alzheimer’s Solution: A Breakthrough Program to Prevent and Reserve Cognitive Decilne. They write that, far from the belief that existed previously: that dementia is inevitable and a consequence of old age, “for the vast majority, about 90 percent of us, adopting a brain-healthy lifestyle could completely eliminate the risk of Alzheimer’s.”
The latest imaging detection tools have explored the brain in more detail. This is of great importance not only at a scientific level, but for women aged 40 and over, as it enables us to anticipate the illness.
These studies in the early detection of dementia suggest how it would begin to develop in our body 10 to 30 years before the first symptoms. This gives us an excellent opportunity to make changes to habits and lifestyle.
Dr. Lisa Mosconi, senior author and director of the Women’s Brain Initiative and an associate professor of neuroscience in neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine researched how women develop brain changes associated with Alzheimer´s earlier than men and confirms: “we may need to start thinking about reducing the potential risks for Alzheimer’s disease in female patients at 40 or 50 years old, not 70”.
Menopause & Alzheimer’s
Considering that the disease has an approximate incidence of 3 to 1 in women over men, it is vital to take care of hormonal health, as it is indicated by research (see: Sex and Gender Driven Modifiers of Alzheimer’s ), as an additional risk factor for women in menopause with low levels of estrogen.
Of course the decrease in hormones is a process. Nevertheless it is a good idea to recognize and monitor the changes, and ask a health care provider to run lab tests, specifically designed for women to measure these levels, in order to determine if there is a need to start BHT (Bioidentical Hormone Therapy).
The power of decisions
Making the right decisions regarding food intake, mental hygiene practices and sleep hygiene rituals as well as incorporating breathing techniques and pauses are ways to ensure not only the care of the brain but also our hormonal and emotional well-being .
If the most common age for diagnosing dementia is around 60-65 years, women in transition to menopause have time to take preventive measures. This can start with substantial changes in environmental factors as explained in this blog post Hormone Imbalance – Why Bad Estrogen Affects Menopause.
Here are some ideas:
- Reduce stressful situations.
- Follow a diet high in Omega 3.
- Exercise and include movement daily.
- Yoga or Yoga Therapy practice.
- Include nature as part of daily rituals.
- Hydrate adequately.
- Limit sugar intake.
- Maintain connection with family and friends.
- Have a ritual before bed.
- Consume vegetables and leafy greens.
- Practice meditation.
Aging. Lifestyle. Menopause. Mental Wellbeing.