Anyone who has seen the deterioration that occurs in Alzheimer’s dementia firsthand is fearful of the same thing happening to their own brain. Luckily, this is not an inevitable process.
To understand how cognitive loss and Alzheimer’s occurs, we need to understand more about my personal favorite part of the cell, the mitochondria.
The mitochondria is the portion of every cell in our bodies that helps to generate energy for the cell to function. Our brain cells, called neurons, require tremendous amounts of energy just to function at a basic level. When our neurons cannot generate the energy they need just to function at a basic level, they begin to break down and die off.
This means that anything that is good for our mitochondria will lower your risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s, while anything that harms our mitochondria will increase the risk. It boils down to being this simple.
One thing that is very bad for our brain is being prediabetic or diabetic, and we have known for some time that these conditions increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. The relationship has been considered strong enough to call Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases “Type 3 Diabetes.”
This particular study adds weight to prior evidence and adds some specifics. Researchers looked at the risk that diabetes creates for loss of cognitive function. Findings include:
- Diabetic patients had a 46% higher risk for Alzheimer’s
- They had a 248% higher risk of blood vessel related dementia (vascular dementia)
- They had a 21% increased risk of mild cognitive impairment
These are some scary numbers. So what can we do to protect our brain and lower our risk?
Obviously, an anti-diabetic lifestyle is key. Specifically, these changes can help greatly:
- Continually challenging your brain (like reading the Rantings…)
- A high quality, low calorie diet
- Lower your exposure to environmental chemicals
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Vitamin D deficiency can increase your risk
Overall, the progression to increasing loss of brain function (from mild cognitive impairment to terminal Alzheimer’s) is almost entirely under your control, but you need to start today. The damage to your brain begins decades before any symptoms are noticed. Every day you wait to make positive changes will lead to more brain cells lost.
What changes have you made to protect your brain?