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Positioning Ourselves for Best Outcomes in a World ripe with Alzheimer's Disease

Every 65 seconds, someone in America is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. In the next 30 years, the number of people living with Alzheimer’s is expected to grow from 6.7 million to 13 million. 11 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s. The cost of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s in the last 5 years of their life can reach over $400k. By 2050, the financial burden of Alzheimer’s in the US could exceed $1 Trillion annually. These are just a few of the statistics a quick search brought me.

So how do we position ourselves for best outcomes in a world ripe with Alzheimer's Disease?

We optimize our health now for better outcomes later!

According to the Alzheimer's Association, several research studies following large groups over many years suggest that adults with Type 2 Diabetes have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's. Blood sugar matters. From the Alzheimer's Society, in a study of 716 people with an average age of 82 years, people who were in the bottom 10% in terms of amount of daily physical activity were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's Disease as those in the top 10%. Physical activity matters. According to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health, people in their 50s and 60s sleeping 6 hours or less per night were 30% more likely to develop dementia. Sleep matters. From the National Institute on Aging, changes in the gut microbiome as people age have been linked to disruptions in the immune system, persistent inflammation and chronic diseases, including neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's Disease. Gut health matters. From Frontiers in Neuroscience, an unhealthy diet pattern, such as a high-fat diet with high glycemic load and high cholesterol or a Western Diet (aka - Standard American Diet/SAD), is an important risk factor for neurodegeneration and Alzheimer's Disease. Nutrition matters. In a study conducted by BioMed Central, residential greenspace exposure was found to be protective in older U.S. adults and showed an association with lower incidence of dementia. Environment matters. According to Alzheimer's Research UK, a review of 37 studies found that smokers were 40% more likely to develop Alzheimer's Disease than non-smokers. Stopping smoking matters. Research funded by Bright Focus Foundation's Alzheimer's Disease Research Program discovered even moderate alcohol use - 2 drinks or less per day for men and 1 drink or less per day for women - can affect the brain and may accelerate Alzheimer's Disease progression. Stopping/limiting alcohol matters. Taking certain prescription drugs like anticholinergics (like Benedryl or NyQuil) or benzodiazapines (like Xanax or Atavan) has been linked to a substantial rise in dementia risk. Prescription drug use matters. Finally, according to a study by the National Library of Medicine, "Our study provides consistent data pointing to an increased risk of AD for clinically significant depression." Mental health matters.

What steps can we take to modify our risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease?

It's a multi-faceted approach that requires optimizing our health on many fronts:

  1. optimize your blood sugar levels - Know your numbers and actively work to reduce elevated blood glucose and A1C.

  2. optimize your nutrition - Discover what clean, anti-inflammatory eating looks like and establish a plan to transform your plate and ultimately, to transform your health!

  3. optimize your gut health - Test, don't guess! Find out what's really going on in there and take action to rectify any gut dysbiosis (SIBO, H. Pylori, Candida, Leaky Gut, etc.).

  4. optimize your physical health - Get active and stay active as you age. Set a minimum goal of 150 min per week of exercise including fast walking, weight training, and yoga for heart health, muscle and bone health, flexibility and stability!

  5. optimize your sleep hygiene - Shoot for 8 hours of restorative sleep each night, work to improve your sleep hygiene and understand what's keeping you from optimal sleep.

  6. optimize your environment - Get outside more and bring the outdoors in! Having plants and lush greenery in your indoor space has been proven to elevate mood, clean the air, and enhance your well-being. Getting outside and barefoot in nature is also a proven strategy for optimizing your immune health and reducing inflammation. PS - It also helps you sleep better, too!

  7. optimize what you put in your body - Evaluate your relationship with prescription, OTC, and recreational drugs and alcohol. Consider these risky behaviors and work to optimize what you choose to put in your body. Ask yourself, is this going to hurt me more than helps? Discuss all medications with your physician or pharmacist and work to find the lowest dose that works for you. Better yet, find out the root cause of why you need it in the first place and work to resolve those issues!

  8. optimize your mental health - Put yourself first in terms of daily on-going to-do-lists. Make time for your mental health and self-care. Take breaks throughout the day. Seek support from a specialist to deal with past hurts and traumas. Gain control of your mind and your outlook.

  9. optimize your health and well-being with a NBC-HWC trained in Integrative and Functional Nutrition, Lifestyle Medicine and Brain Health - Want to truly create an impact on your future health outcomes? Work with me to positively influence key lifestyle factors associated with healthy aging!

My sweet Mama was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2016. She passed in January of 2020 after living out her final 6 months in my home with round-the-clock care and support. It's true what they say, we don't know what we don't know... And sometimes, we can learn things too late, as was the case with me for my mother. I learned a ton of things about Alzheimer's Disease and caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's literally in a trial by fire situation (I don't recommend). It prompted me to seek more information and obtain my Brain Health Trainer designation in an effort to optimize my own brain health, and to pay it forward to my clients seeking to do the same. I don't wish this dreaded disease on anyone. I will leave you with this... Genetics is not the whole picture. It's also not always your destiny. As a wise mentor of mine once said, "Genetics loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger." Friends, I urge you to really assess your state of health and well-being today. If anything needs tweaking, address it now, before it's too late.

Interested in working with me to optimize your health and well-being, please feel free to book a complimentary 30-minute call to discuss your concerns and learn what health coaching specific to you and your needs might look like.

This blog is dedicated to my mother, her sister, and her aunt, all whom suffered at the hand of the Alzheimer's beast. It's also dedicated to all of those currently fighting this fight and/or caring for a loved one in the midst of battle. My heart goes out to you. If you are a caregiver in need of support to care for yourself as you care for your loved one, please consider joining me on a coaching journey to optimize your self-care routine and preserve your peace. (book a call using link above)

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