Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted by Jeff Nixon March 31, 2013

Here is some information excerpted from Jean Carper’s book: :  “100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s” 

Item number 6 should really “hit” home with former pro football players.

“The idea that Alzheimer’s is entirely genetic and unpreventable is perhaps the Greatest misconception about the disease,” says Gary Small, M.D., director of The UCLA Center on Aging.  Researchers now know that Alzheimer’s, like heart Disease and cancer, develops over decades and can be influenced by lifestyle factors including cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity, depression, education, Nutrition, sleep and mental, physical and social activity.

Here are 10 strategies:

  1. Have coffee: In an amazing flip-flop, coffee is the new brain tonic.  A large European study showed that drinking three to five cups of coffee a day in Midlife cut Alzheimer’s risk 65% in late life. University of South Florida Researcher Gary Arendash credits caffeine:  He says it reduces dementia-causing amyloid in animal brains. Others credit coffee’s antioxidants. So drink up, Arendash advises, unless your doctor says you shouldn’t.
  2. Floss: Oddly, the health of your teeth and gums can help predict dementia. University of Southern California research found that having periodontal disease before age 35 quadrupled the odds of dementia years later. Older people with tooth and gum disease score lower on memory and cognition tests, other studies show. Experts speculate that inflammation in diseased mouths migrates to the brain.
  3. Google: Doing an online search can stimulate your aging brain even more than reading a book, says UCLA’s Gary Small, who used brain MRI’s to prove it. The biggest surprise: Novice Internet surfers, ages 55 to 78, activated key memory and learning centers in the brain after only a week of Web surfing for an hour a day.
  4. Grow new brain cells: Impossible, scientists used to say. Now it’s believed that thousands of brain cells are born daily. The trick is to keep the newborns alive. What works: aerobic exercise (such as a brisk 30-minute walk every day), strenuous mental activity, eating salmon and other fatty fish, and avoiding obesity, chronic stress, sleep deprivation, heavy drinking and vitamin B deficiency.
  5. Drink apple juice: Apple juice can push production of the “memory chemical” acetylcholine; that’s the way the popular Alzheimer’s drug Aricept works, says Thomas Shea, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts. He was surprised that old mice given apple juice did better on learning and memory tests than mice that received water. A dose for humans: 16 ounces, or two to three apples a day.
  6. Protect your head: Blows to the head, even mild ones early in life, increase the odds of dementia years later. Pro football players have 19 times the typical rate of memory-related diseases. Alzheimer’s is four times more common in elderly who suffer a head injury, Columbia University finds. Accidental falls doubled an older person’s odds of dementia five years later in another study. Wear seat belts and helmets, fall-proof your house, and don’t take risks.
  7. Meditate: Brain scans show that people who meditate regularly have less cognitive decline and brain shrinkage – a classic sign of Alzheimer’s – as they age. Andrew Newberg of the University of Pennsylvania -School of Medicine says yoga meditation of 12 minutes a day for two months improved blood flow and cognitive functioning in seniors with memory problems.
  8. Take D: A “severe deficiency” of vitamin D boosts older Americans’ risk of Cognitive impairment 394%, an alarming study by England’s University of Exeter finds. And most Americans lack vitamin D. Experts recommend a daily dose of 800 IU to 2,000 IU of vitamin D3.
  9. Fill your brain: It’s called “cognitive reserve.” A rich accumulation of life experiences – education, marriage, socializing, a stimulating job, language skills, having a purpose in life, physical activity and mentally demanding leisure activities – makes your brain better able to tolerate plaques and tangles. You can even have significant Alzheimer’s pathology and no symptoms of dementia if you have high cognitive reserve, says David Bennett, M.D., of Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center.
  10. Avoid infection: Astonishing new evidence ties Alzheimer’s to cold sores, gastric ulcers, Lyme disease, pneumonia and the flu. Ruth Itzhaki, Ph.D., of the University of Manchester in England estimates the cold-sore herpes simplex virus is incriminated in 60% of Alzheimer’s cases. The theory: Infections trigger excessive beta amyloid “gunk” that kills brain cells. Proof is still lacking, but why not avoid common infections and take appropriate vaccines, antibiotics and antiviral agents?

What to Drink for Good Memory… 

A great way to keep your aging memory sharp and avoid Alzheimer’s is to drink the right stuff.

  1. Tops: Juice. A glass of any fruit or vegetable juice three times a week slashed Alzheimer’s odds 76% in Vanderbilt University research. Especially protective:blueberry, grape and apple juice, say other studies.
  1. Tea: Only a cup of black or green tea a week cut rates of cognitive decline in older people by 37%, reports the Alzheimer’s Association.  Only brewed tea works. Skip bottled tea, which is devoid of antioxidants.
  1. Caffeine beverages: Surprisingly, caffeine fights memory loss and Alzheimer’s, suggest dozens of studies. Best sources: coffee (one Alzheimer’s researcher drinks five cups a day), tea and chocolate.  Beware caffeine if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, insomnia or anxiety.
  1. Red wine: If you drink alcohol, a little red wine is most apt to benefit your aging brain. It’s high in antioxidants.  Limit it to one daily glass for women, two for men. Excessive alcohol, notably binge drinking, brings on Alzheimer’s.
  1. Two to avoid: Sugary soft drinks, especially those sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. They make lab animals dumb. Water with high copper content also can up your odds of Alzheimer’s. Use a water filter that removes excess minerals.

5 Ways to Save Your Kids from Alzheimer’s Now…

Alzheimer’s isn’t just a disease that starts in old age. What happens to your child’s brain seems to have a dramatic impact on his or her likelihood of Alzheimer’s many decades later.

Here are five things you can do now to help save your child from Alzheimer’s and memory loss later in life, according to the latest research.

  1. Prevent head blows: Insist your child wear a helmet during biking, skating, skiing, baseball, football, hockey, and all contact sports. A major blow as well as tiny repetitive unnoticed concussions can cause damage, leading to memory loss and Alzheimer’s years later.
  2. Encourage language skills: A teenage girl who is a superior writer is eight times more likely to escape Alzheimer’s in late life than a teen with poor linguistic skills. Teaching young children to be fluent in two or more languages makes them less vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.
  3. Insist your child go to college: Education is a powerful Alzheimer’s deterrent. The more years of formal schooling, the lower the odds. Most Alzheimer’s prone: teenage drop outs. For each year of education, your risk of dementia drops 11%, says a recent University of Cambridge study.
  4. Provide stimulation: Keep your child’s brain busy with physical, mental and social activities and novel experiences. All these contribute to a bigger, better functioning brain with more so-called cognitive reserve.’ High cognitive reserve protects against memory decline and Alzheimer’s.
  5. Spare the junk food: Lab animals raised on berries, spinach and high omega-3 fish have great memories in old age. Those overfed sugar, especially high fructose in soft drinks, saturated fat and trans fats become overweight and diabetic, with smaller brains and impaired memories as they age, a prelude to Alzheimer’s.

About Jeff Nixon

Jeff was a first team consensus All-American from the University of Richmond in 1978. He is 7th in NCAA history with 23 career interceptions. Played for the Buffalo Bills 1979-1984. Led the team with 6 interceptions in Rookie Year. Holds Bills record for 4 takeaways in a single game - 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tied Bills record with four consecutive games with an interception. After 5 knee surgeries Jeff retired from pro football in 1985. He worked for 13 years (1988-2000) as the Youth Bureau Director for Buffalo and Erie County. He has worked for the past 11 years as the Youth Employment Director for Buffalo. Plays guitar and was voted best R&B guitar player by Buffalo Nightlife Magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Posted on March 31, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Thanks Jeff. As a former professional football player and 17 year Executive Board member of the NFLPA-Chicago Chapter your efforts to educate us on pertinent information provides great benefits to our fellow players. This can be shared with many family and friends. Keep up your vital efforts.

  2. I really enjoy your approach Jeff. Thanks for your continued effort. Have you been involved with any former players that have enlarged Aortas from the type of weight training we were subjected to? I have been treated for aortic aneurism problems and the cardioligist believes it is a result of traing I went through as a lineman in the NFL. The reason I ask is two fold. First thanks to you and Jeff VanNote I am involved in the head trauma case in Philly, and second, since I have been diagnosed I have learned about four or five players from my team in the 70s that I played with that have the same thing. I only keep track of 10 or so old team mates and it seemed a high percentage. Just wondering if you have any data? Thanks again for your work.

  3. Thank you Jeff. I will put your advise on this horrible disease to work right away. Keep up the good work.

    Scott Kozak (Houston Oilers 89′-93′)

  4. Jeff, certainly agree with Gary Small that AD is not entirely genetic, its an interaction between genes and environment and one gene in particular – Apolipoprotein E – was recently identified by the American Academy of Neurology as a risk factor for chronic neurobehavioral impairment after concussion – these updated guidelines were released 3/18/13.

    Apolipoprotein (Apo) E4 is the major genetic risk factor for AD and is associated with poor clinical outcome following traumatic brain injury and even other neuropathological disorders.

    Neuronal damage or stress from events such as concussion induce production of ApoE synthesis as part of the repair process. The ApoE4 protein because of its unique structure does not work as effectively.

    25% of the population possess one or two copies of APOE4 – those that do can benefit from more conservative return to play after concussion, and the interventions you describe above should be strongly recommended in these athletes.

    Jim Kovach, MD (New Orleans Saints/SF 49ers 1979-85)

  5. I like your article,it is very useful, by following the above points cause of cancer can be deterred to come across. According to a study, alzheimer diseased people have the less chances of developing cancer.

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