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My Grandma


This article is in remembrance of my grandmother who suffered from Alzheimer's disease the last few years of her life.

The thing that got me thinking about this subject was a major scientific find the last couple of weeks around Alzheimer's disease.  This finding is that there is a gene you can inherit from one or both of your parents called APOE4 and if you get it from both of your parents (about 2% of the US population) your chances of getting Alzheimer's disease is over 80%.  There is another interesting fact that tells the rest of the story though.  The population in Nigeria has among the highest rate of the APOE4 gene, but they have about half the Alzheimer’s rate as the United States.  This seems like another case of genes may load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.  You still have a lot of say in your risk for Alzheimer’s. 

The lifestyle choices that lower the risk of both dementia and cognitive decline are:

·         Exercise, both cardio and strength training

·         Metabolic health. Your brain is about 2% of your body weight but burns about 20% of your fuel.  This is why your metabolic health has so much effect on not only your day-to-day cognitive function, but also your long-term cognitive health.  Alzheimer’s disease is sometimes referred to as type III diabetes.  These first two things go hand in hand as exercise is one of the best ways to improve metabolic health.

·         Sleep is an active form of brain recovery.  We should again look at how we feel cognitively in the short term to give us clues as to how it affects us in the long term.  I think we need to have an article or two just on sleep.

·         Use it or lose it.  Use your mind.  The more strenuous, the better.  And it is much better if you combine mind and body.  An example of a strenuous brain activity is learning a new language.  Then combining mind and body.  Things like dancing, tennis, basketball, pickleball, rock climbing.  Even if it is less strenuous exercise but combines mind and body like playing or learning a musical instrument.

The triple whammy is an activity that combines stimulating your mind and body that you enjoy.  This is worth trying and trying again to find.  

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