The Shrinking Brain: Avoiding Alzheimer’s
As the Alzheimer’s disease epidemic continues to expand – some describe it as a ‘health meteor’ that’s going to strike the elderly populations from modern countries around 2025.
The good news is that great information is surfacing about how to avoid Alzheimer’s disease.
THE TAKE AWAYS:
- Small Brain Syndrome: People who have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have ‘shrunken’ brains – i.e. smaller brain volumes; meaning their brains atrophy (and for you physiology nerds, their ventricles enlarge).
- Large Brain People: There are people, despite having the characteristic pathologic brain lesions commonly associated with AD, show no cognitive decline. Why? (i.e. what’s their secret?), what’s theneuroprotective mechanism in those people who don’t suffer even though they have the plaques? Larger brain volume.
- Fish Oil and Larger Brains: Blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids (that’s fish oil) lead to larger brain volumes (i.e. decreased brain atrophy).
- Exercise Helps Your Brain (… duh): What fires, wires. Regular exercise helps brain neurons to continually develop and stay healthy and is associated with preventing brain tissue loss and decreased incidence of Alzheimer’s.
Did you know that many scientists, doctors, researchers now refer to Alzheimer’s disease as ‘Type 3 Diabetes’? Let that percolate through your brain for a moment. High insulin levels, the physiological equivalent of terrorism, promotes neurodegeneration leading to Alzeimer’s. So, avoiding sugar and foods that act like sugar – bread, cereal, pasta, pizza, crackers – must be part of your diet style, your health regimen.
Last, because the brain is 60% fat, the synapses within the brain (the connections between neurons) are 80% fat, it critical that our fatty acid intake and ratios are in line with being healthy. For more on this read Why Omega-3.
 Apostolova, Liana G, et al. Hippocampal Atrophy and Ventricular Enlargement in Normal Aging, Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and Alzheimer Disease Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders: Jan–Mar 2012; 26(1):17–27.
 Silbert, LC, et al Changes in premorbid brain volume predict Alzheimer’s disease pathology Neurology Aug 26, 2003 61(4): 487-492.
 Erten-Lyons, Deniz, et al. Factors associated with resistance to dementia despite high Alzheimer disease pathology Neurology January 27, 2009 vol. 72(4) 354-360.
 Pottala, James V. PhD Higher RBC EPA + DHA corresponds with larger total brain and hippocampal volumes Neurology (2014) First published online before print January 22, 2014 doi: 10.1212.
 Tan, ZS, et al. Red blood cell omega-3 fatty acid levels and markers of accelerated brain aging. Neurology Feb 28, 2012 vol. 78(9):658-664
 Cederholm, T Fish consumption and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for prevention or treatment of cognitive decline, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in older adults – any news? Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: March 2017, 20: 2;104–109
 Erickson, Kirk I, et al. Beyond vascularization: aerobic fitness is associated with N-acetylaspartate and working memory Brain and Behavior 2012 January; 2(1): 32–41.
 Larson, Eric B, et al. Exercise Is Associated with Reduced Risk for Incident Dementia among Persons 65 Years of Age and Older. Ann Intern Med. 2006;144(2):73-81.
 Tian, Q, et al. Physical Activity Predicts Microstructural Integrity in Memory-Related Networks in Very Old Adults J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci (2014) First published online: January 28, 2014 doi: 10.1093.
 Colcombe, SJ, et al. Aerobic fitness reduces brain tissue loss in aging humans. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2003 Feb; 58(2):176-80.