Scientists might finally be close to finding a way to predict who will develop Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and how to prevent it. AD is a subject close to my heart not only because the company I just quit launched the first AD drug into the market, but also because I used to work with patients with AD in nursing homes and know what a debilitating and dehumanizing disease it can be. The ones whose children are willing to take care of them in a home setting are truly blessed. More often, because of the demanding nature of taking care of an AD patient, families choose to send the afflicted to long-term care facilities and leave the dirty works to others. I won’t get into the gritty details of how patients are neglected even in the best facilities (it’s hard to demand total strangers to understand the incomprehensible babbles, let alone notice subtle signs of distress), but suffice it to say it made such an impression on me that I am scared of AD more than I am of cancer. The worst that can happen with cancer is that I die, but with AD, I could end up in a living hell.
At the first Alzheimer prevention conference, researchers presented early evidence of how AD might be predicted, along with brain-healthy lifestyles that might prevent the onset of the disease. Among the lifestyles markers that protect one from AD are:
- Drink fruit or vegetable juices at least three times a week (people who do are four times less likely to develop AD).
- Higher education, healthy gum and absence of stroke (education stimulates brain development and gum disease points towards inflammation harmful to the brain)
- Stay socially active in old age.
Can't do anything with your genes but you can do something with your lifestyle! So down those cartons of OJ and don’t forget to floss!