Every 69 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. According to the Alzheimer's Association's annual report on the state of the disease in the United States, one in three seniors dies of Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia. These are sobering figures surrounding the rapidly aging population in the United States.
As researchers continue to focus on the quest to stop this disease, Alzheimer's prevention efforts provide a glimmer of hope. Championed and led by Banner Alzheimer's Institute (BAI), the Alzheimer's Prevention Initiative (API) is an international collaborative formed to launch a new era of Alzheimer's prevention research by evaluating the most promising therapies and doing so as quickly as possible.
Alzheimer's begins to develop in the brain long before any symptoms appear. Studies have shown that changes in the brain happen far earlier than anyone first thought. These "silent" years may be the critical period in which to intervene, and we need to find effective ways to slow or stop further damage in the brain, if not prevent the disease altogether.
However, as this cutting-edge research moves forward, filling Alzheimer's trials is proving to be a major barrier facing researchers. Many trials need up to 30,000 willing participants to fill a 2,000-person trial which can delay critical research up to two years. This is discouraging, given Alzheimer's remains the only condition among the top 10 causes of death that has no cure or treatment.
BAI created the Alzheimer's Prevention Registry to accelerate much-needed research. With the Registry (http://endalznow.org), the infrastructure is now in place to help recruit participants from across the country and match them to researchers within their community.
The Registry draws on the support of its other partners, the Geoffrey Beene Gives Back Alzheimer's Initiative and the Alzheimer's Research Forum, and the guidance of leading U.S. researchers and advocates. Much like the Army of Women (http://armyofwomen.org), the goal is to recruit 250,000 individuals over the age of 18 who are committed to helping end Alzheimer's before another generation is lost. It takes only a minute to sign up and is one of the easiest ways people can get involved in the fight against this devastating disease.
Americans who have been touched by this disease are enrolling to move the needle on Alzheimer's research and awareness. Just take Nancy Hetrick. Nancy's grandfather was one of 14 children, all of whom developed Alzheimer's. Her family watched their grandfather deteriorate and eventually pass away. Because of this experience, her dad told the family he did not want to be a burden if he were to develop the disease. Her father began to show symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer's in his 50s and suffered with the disease for more than 20 years.
Soon after losing her father, Nancy's mother began to show signs of Alzheimer's. She now is her mother's primary caregiver. Her mother is one of three children, all of which are afflicted with the disease. With such a grim outlook for Nancy and her family, she's not standing on the sidelines.
Nancy and her three sisters joined the Alzheimer's Prevention Registry to make an impact in the fight against the disease that has ravaged their family. It is Nancy's hope that through her family's participation and the participation of others across the country, researchers will identify a way to treat and ultimately prevent the disease before it wreaks further devastation on her family and the many other families struggling with Alzheimer's.
This grassroots movement is only getting started. With your help, we can increase momentum in the fight to end Alzheimer's.
That doesn't mean you should pour out a bag of Skittles at each meal. Try to eat foods of a variety of natural colors to gain antioxidants, said Dr. Amen.
Just because something is a fruit, doesn't mean you should chow down on it, according to Dr. Daniel Amen, author of "Use Your Brain To Change Your Age." For brain health, Dr. Amen recommends food with a low glycemic index -- which measures how quickly food increases blood sugar -- and a lot of fiber, which benefits your intestinal tract. Certain fruit like pineapple and watermelon have high glycemic indexes and should be avoided, advises Dr. Amen. Instead, incorporate fruits like blueberries, apples, oranges, cherries, kiwi, strawberries and raspberries. When it comes to fiber, consider adding coconut to your diet. Correction: In a previous version of this slide, "blood pressure" was incorrectly inserted where "blood sugar" is.
Don't eliminate all of the fat in your diet. Instead, focus on incorporating good fats. In fact, if your cholesterol drops too low, you may be at greater risk for depression, according to Amen and several studies on low cholesterol. So what exactly are "good fats"? Dr. Amen advises people to eat foods rich in omega-3s to promote brain health, including almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, fish, lamb, avocados and green leafy vegetables. Another added benefit of eating good fats? "Your vitamins are actually absorbed better when you eat them with a little bit of fat," said Dr. Amen.
While you generally want to avoid bad fats, if you choose to eat steak, "you want to go with grass-fed, hormone-free, free-range meats" rather than grain-fed meats, said Dr. Amen. "When you feed the animals the high-glycemic foods, they actually produce less of the good fat and more of the bad fat. So they're not as good for you." In other words, what your food eats affects your health too, according to Dr. Amen. Photo courtesy of mdid
Next time you're whipping up some grub, turn to your spice rack for an extra brain boost. Spices and herbs may do more for your health than you realize. According to Dr. Amen, cinnamon balances blood sugar; garlic, oregano and rosemary increase blood flow to the brain; curry acts as an anti-inflammatory; and saffron can have anti-depressant effects. Photo courtesy of S. Diddy
Next time you're craving a cold glass of juice with your breakfast, think again. "Juice is sugar that is unwrapped from its fiber source, and whenever you unwrap sugar from its fiber source, it can turn toxic in your body," said Dr. Amen. Photo courtesy of Leonid Mamchenkov
You may be dreaming about that delicious breakfast muffin all night, but you should probably steer clear of the breakfast pastries. "There's way too much bad fat and sugar," said Dr. Amen. Instead, he recommends a protein-heavy breakfast like a few boiled eggs, nuts and an apple. While Dr. Amen suggests eating lean protein at each meal, he believes it is "especially important in the morning because it helps you focus," he said. Photo courtesy of Nicola since 1972
The last thing you need when you're trying to eat healthy are friends who try to coerce you to be unhealthy. "You have to deal with the food pushers in your life because they'll steal your health," said Dr. Amen. "The health of the people you spend time with will often determine your longevity." Make sure your friends understand and support your decision to eat healthier, and try to find other people who who are on the same healthy path as you.