For people getting older, Alzheimer’s disease has begun to be perceived as worse than suffering from myocardial infarction, particularly when scientists still haven’t figured exactly what triggers it. A recent study says that you might be able to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by keeping your brain active.
If until recently the main advice for the elderly to enjoy a healthy life was exercise and a good diet, now scientists say you have to take your brain to fitness too. A study published in the January 23rd issue of the Archives of Neurology, points out that people who keep their brain active most of their lives by reading, writing, doing puzzles or trying to figure out challenging games are a lot less likely to develop a brain plaque linked to Alzheimer’s.
Researchers compared PET brain scans from healthy older people, patients with Alzheimer’s and young people who were 25 years old. Then they asked questions about their life style, how frequently they intellectually challenged their brains, only to track down a link between people who exercise their brain and the protein that develops Alzheimer’s.
The Beta amyloid protein is among the major component of the amyloid plaque that triggers the disease. Dr. William Jagust of the University of California, Berkeley, explained that “Beta amyloid is the protein that many people feel may be the initiating factor in Alzheimer’s disease. It is the protein that is in the plaques of the brains of people with Alzheimer’s”.
Jagust mentioned that the study isn’t looking at the “brain’s response to amyloid. We’re talking about the actual accumulation of amyloid”.
Susan Landau, also involved in the research, said that the data they have found suggests that a whole lifetime of engaging activities such as crosswords and other mental exercises “has a bigger effect than being cognitively active just in older age”.
The situation is urgent and such researches are a step forward in dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. Just last week, the U.S. government released several draft recommendations for a national Alzheimer’s plan aimed to come up with effective treatments and prevention measures by 2025. At the moment there are 36 million people suffering from this disease worldwide, and the figure is expected to increase by 2030 to 66 million.