Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for half of the cases. AD is a progressive brain/body disorder characterised by gradual memory loss, nerve cell loss, dysfunction of connections between nerve cells (synapses), and subsequent impairment in cognitive and behavioural functions.
The Alzheimer’s Gene: APOE4
Women with APOE4 have a threefold greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. About 20 to 25 percent of the population has one or two copies of the APOE4 gene. However, only about 20 percent of patients with Alzheimer’s disease carry the gene.
What We Know:
- Women have a significantly higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared with men.
- Overall, the risk of dementia is 18% higher in women, and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease is increased by 56%.
- One factor that is unique to women is that we suddenly experience rapid changes in oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone starting in perimenopause, the two to ten years before your final menstrual period. This hormonal transition appears to be a sex-specific and major risk factor for developing AD.
- Women in perimenopause, which typically occurs in your forties, develop low energy in the brain, also known as “hypometabolism.” This seems to be a precursor to cognitive decline that occurs decades later.
- Sleep disorders are more common in women and may modulate risk of dementia and effect of sex hormones.
- Other nutritional factors, such as folate intake, may modify a woman’s risk of dementia.
- On the other hand, cumulative oestrogen exposure and hormone therapy do not decrease the risk of dementia later in life.
When I surveyed women over 50, developing Alzheimers came out top as there greatest fear in later life. This brought me to creating the Alive Longevity Tree, 30 tips to staying younger for longer. It addresses many of the lifestyle hacks Dr Bredesen suggests to help reverse this dreaded disease.
Dr. Dale Bredesen, M.D., a neurologist, UCLA professor, and investigator at the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing, has pioneered a program that reverses memory loss in nearly all of his patients within three to six months. Yes, reverses. Larger clinical trials need to be done, but this is a rare bright spot in the treatment of Alzheimer’s that you need to know about now before it’s too late.
Yet the cure is probably not a single drug with one target. Instead, the best solution appears to be an array of lifestyle medicine changes that addresses multiple root causes.
Reversing or preventing cognitive decline demands a change in diet, exercise, stress, sleep, brain stimulation, and supplements. Patients with Alzheimer’s often have poor diets, high perceived stress, inflammation, insulin resistance, vitamin D abnormalities and hormonal imbalances, and toxic exposures.
Five tips to get you started:
Here are some ideas for what you can do.
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods that keeps your blood sugars stable. An array of vegetables is a good start, aim for 10 portions per day.
- Get good sleep. Seven to 8.5 hours every night. Work towards to achieving quality restful sleep.
- Fast 12 to 18 hours overnight to reduce your risk of AD. This is easy to achieve, eat your last meal at 6pm and then have your breakfast at 7am the next day (13 hours fast). Or if you don’t fancy breakfast then have a healthy brunch at 12 noon.
- Exercise 30 to 60 minutes, four to six times per week. Cardio exercise is the best type to stimulate your brain. So, cycling, aerobics, hit, swimming and light jogging.
- Go easy on the red meat, have more vegetarian days and more fresh fish.
The longevity tree is discussed weekly at my two Health classes for women over 40. Find your nearest one HERE.