Alzheimer’s disease is a very common illness that affects older people worldwide, and it is one of the main causes of dementia.
Researchers have been working for more than twenty years to find out what causes Alzheimer’s, but they have not yet discovered the exact reason, and there is no cure for the disease.
There are two main theories about the cause of Alzheimer’s. The first theory is that a specific protein called amyloid-beta protein accumulates in the brain and causes the disease.
The second theory is more recent and suggests that a problem with the cell’s energy-producing machinery called mitochondria is responsible for Alzheimer’s.
Scientists from Yale-NUS College recently conducted a study that found evidence supporting the second theory.
They discovered that metabolic defects occur before any significant increase in amyloid-beta protein can be detected.
To identify these changes, the team used a tiny worm called Caenorhabditis elegans because it has many similarities at the molecular level with human cells.
The researchers found that treatment with a common anti-diabetes drug called Metformin reversed these metabolic defects and improved the worms’ healthspan and lifespan.
Based on the emerging strong links between mitochondrial dysfunction and Alzheimer’s pathology, the team suggests that it might be better to adopt a preventative strategy by targeting metabolic defects directly and early, well before protein aggregates are even present.
Metabolic and mitochondrial dysfunctions are fundamental features of aging, and age-dependent diseases such as Alzheimer’s should, therefore, be viewed as manifestations of aging.
The researchers suggest that it may be easier to prevent or treat age-dependent diseases by targeting the mechanisms of aging instead of treating individual diseases after symptoms occur.
While there is currently no surefire way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing it. Here are some tips:
Exercise regularly: Studies have shown that regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 50 percent.
Eat a healthy diet: A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help protect your brain from damage.
Stay mentally active: Engage in activities that challenge your brain, such as learning a new language or taking up a new hobby.
Get enough sleep: Sleep is crucial for brain health and studies have shown that poor sleep can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Manage your stress: Chronic stress can damage your brain and increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as through exercise, meditation, or yoga.
Stay socially connected: Social isolation can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Stay connected with friends and family and participate in social activities.
Protect your head: Head injuries can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Wear a helmet when participating in sports, and take steps to prevent falls.
While these steps cannot guarantee that you will not develop Alzheimer’s, they can help reduce your risk and improve your overall health and well-being.
The study conducted by Jan Gruber et al was published in the scientific journal eLife.
If you care about brain health, please read studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, and higher magnesium intake could help benefit brain health.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and coconut oil could help improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s.
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