We probably all know someone who is affected by it, we might even be scared of developing it ourselves, one day. Let’s talk about it: Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease affects over 30 million people worldwide, it's important to understand what Alzheimer's disease is, how it affects your brain and what you can do to help reduce your risk of developing this condition throughout your aging process.
What is Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's is by far the most common form of dementia...a general term that is often used to diagnose age-related memory loss and other cognitive impairments that interfere with normal everyday living. In fact, Alzheimer's makes up roughly 50% to 80% of all recorded dementia cases.
Alzheimer's disease (often known simply as AD) is a non-reversible brain disorder that tends to develop slowly over a period of years with increasing effects on the brain and body. In its early stages, people usually experience general memory loss and confusion. This can easily be mistaken for the many different kinds of memory fluctuations that are often associated with the aging process. Nevertheless, over time, AD symptoms can lead to changes in personality and behaviour, as well as a reduction in simpler mental abilities like language skills and making decisions. People suffering from AD also tend to have trouble recognizing their family and friends. As the condition worsens, the person's brain gradually deteriorates resulting in a severe mental impairment that affects both cognitive abilities and both voluntary and involuntary bodily functions.
Unfortunately scientists and health professionals don't know exactly what causes Alzheimer's. However, many scientists have reason to believe that genetics, lifestyle and a lack of important nutrients can significantly increase the risk of developing this degenerative brain disease.
The healthy brain is made up of approximately 100 billion neurons (nerve cells). Each one of these neurons connects to many other nerve cells, ultimately forming a complex web of cellular networks that help different parts of the brain communicate with other parts as well as the rest of the body. The end result is that this form of neural communication helps the body function and gives us the ability to see, smell, feel, hear, taste, think, learn and remember.
The nerve cells in the brain need the right nutrients and ingredients to survive and function optimally. If they're damaged in any way or lack the necessary nutrients, they can die and start a degenerative chain reaction across different areas of the brain. This is how Alzheimer's begins.
What causes Alzheimer's disease?
There are four major characteristics in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease:
- Amyloid plaques: This plaque is made up of proteins that have been affected by glycation...this is a process where a glycating agent sticks to the protein molecule forming a misformed molecule called an AGE - which is short for Advanced Glycation End-products. These AGEs move around the brain binding to cells and causing them to increase the formation of amyloid beta which is a toxic material and it is abundant in Alzheimers and dementia patients.
- Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs): Inside each neuron are collections of a protein called tau. If these proteins are affected by glycation and become 'sticky', they clump together and form fibrous clumps inside the nerve cell called 'tangles'. They basically choke the cell to death by interfering with essential nutrients and processes within the cell.
- Loss of connections between neurons responsible for memory and learning: Neurons love being social...it's vital for their survival, so if they lose their connections with other neurons, they will start dying, causing a chain reaction across the affected regions in the brain, causing these areas to shrink.
- Inflammation of the brain: Whenever the body experiences trauma or is threatened with infection or toxins (like amyloid beta) its defence mechanism is an inflammatory response. However, instead of inflammation helping the problem it tends to make it worse. In fact, new studies suggest that in AD, inflammation may act as a trigger to the glycation changes in the tau proteins that cause neurofibrillary tangles.
What can you do to avoid AD?
Living a healthy lifestyle is essential to help reduce your risk of developing AD. Staying active - both physically and mentally - are also very important. However, as mentioned earlier, getting the right ingredients and nutrients daily is without a doubt one of the best first lines of defence you can give your brain. Glycation and inflammation are two of the five main causes of aging...they also play a main role in kick-starting the development of AD. By supplementing with a nutriment formula like Think Sharp, which contains specially blended ingredients to help maintain memory, cognition and focus with targeted nutrition for brain cells.