Lifestyle Trumps Alzheimer’s

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People who follow Mediterranean-style diets and stay physically active every day are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study from the University of California, Los Angeles. The researchers studied 44 patients between the ages of 40- and 85-years-old who had mild memory problems, but had not been diagnosed with dementia. The patients underwent PET scans to determine the levels of protein deposits in their brains, a sign of plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease. They found that those patients who maintained desirable weights, followed a Mediterranean diet, and were physically active had fewer plaques and tangles compared to the other patients.

Unfortunately, more than one in every four Americans past the age of 50-years-old does not exercise, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. One-third of Hispanics and Blacks and 26% of Whites are inactive. The older people get, the less active they are – with 37% of people over the age of 75-years-old not exercising.

In Perspective: While other studies have shown that healthy lifestyles reduce brain shrinkage and lower the rates of brain tissue atrophy, this is the first study to show how lifestyle factors directly influence levels of abnormal protein deposits in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Modifiable risk factors and brain positron emission tomography measures of amyloid and tau in nondemented adults with memory complaints. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 2016; August 17th.

Watson K, Carlson S, Gunn J, et al: Physical inactivity among adults aged 50 years and older – United States, 2014. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2016; 65:954-958.

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