Simple understanding of lifestyle factors may influence risk of Alzheimer's disease
Expert says there is no one 'silver bullet' to prevent the disease, says expert
It seems almost every day there is a new study that suggests that eating a certain fruit could be the key to staving off Alzheimer's disease, the degenerative disease marked by loss of memory.
From blueberries to broccoli, there have been countless studies evaluating the role that lifestyle choices play in Alzheimer's treatment and prevention.
But these studies — and the subsequent headlines that come out of them — don't often tell the whole story and may even exaggerate the benefits of these foods.
Business Insider spoke with Dr. Maria Carrillo, chief scientific officer of the Alzheimer's Association in the US, to get her take on all of the research coming out on how lifestyle, particularly eating habits and fitness, affect Alzheimer's.
The short answer?
"Have fun, eat healthy meals that are good for you, and you may end up helping your brain as well as your heart," she said.
The same good eating and fitness habits that are associated with a decreased risk of heart problems also seem to have a connection to mental health, she said. It's just not one "silver bullet" — you can stock up on blueberries all you want, but it might not have that much of an impact if it's paired with an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle.
"The strongest conclusions are that physical activity monitoring and cardiovascular health may help prevent Alzheimer's," Carrillo said. Though, "It's a 'may,' because we don't know."
There are very few treatments for Alzheimer's, and none are able to reverse the effects — they just treat the symptoms of the disease. Thinking about ways lifestyle can play a role, Carrillo said, will be integral to treating patients living with Alzheimer's.
"Ultimately, a combination of lifestyle with a pharmaceutical will be the way we treat this disease," she said.
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