It was Alois Alzheimer that performed the autopsy in 1906 that identified the effects that the runaway protein Tau, Beta Amyloid plaque and fibroid tangles had on the brain. These were the bio-markers of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s Dementia, and they were considered to be the result of aging.
The neuroscience community and the pharmaceutical industry tried to come up with answers. It all started 110 years ago, and you would have expected that with all of our technology we would have come up with an answer by now, but the majority of the effort put into finding a cure for Alzheimer’s has been met with frustration and disappointment. Until now, that is.
Now, there’s solid evidence that dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s dementia can be prevented. The bio-markers may still be there but they don’t have to affect our cognitive health as we age.
Two studies conducted by the Alzheimer Disease Center at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago shed an entirely new light on Alzheimer’s dementia and what we can do to prevent it. The first was The Religious Order study started in 1993. The second was the Rush Memory and Aging Project begun in 1997. Both studies are still ongoing, and continue to produce amazing results.
First, the brain of an older person seldom reaches old age without some type of physical damage, either from trauma, stroke, oxidative stress, illness or poor health management. As a consequence, the Tau protein, Beta Amyloid plaque and probably fibroid tangles are frequently present in older adults. But they don’t necessarily affect cognitive functioning.
Second, there is an obvious division in the effect that an individual’s life style has on how the brain responds to the bio-markers of Alzheimer’s dementia.
If an individual’s life style does not incorporate those things that support brain function they are at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia.
In contrast, with the right life style the brain will heal itself avoiding the effects of the Tau protein, Beta Amyloid plaque and tangles on cognitive function.
As you might expect, living a brain healthy life style involves continuing to learn, formally or informally, throughout life, diet, hydration, exercise and proper sleep. But the studies have found that other life style factors are critical as well. They are:
Having purpose or a goal for living with a positive outlook for the future … Engaging in meaningful, goal oriented activities … Being socially active and involved with friends and family … Social media doesn’t count … Being out and about, exploring new things … Spending time engaged in activities that are meaningful and goal directed … Managing stress so that it doesn’t linger.
The conclusion is that with a brain healthy life style aging can be productive, rewarding and fun without being concerned about Alzheimer’s.
There is more detailed information about following a brain healthy lifestyle on this website. Go to the menu at the top of this post.