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Daily News Looks at Risk for Alzheimer's: Four Factors We Can Control

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The connection between Alzheimer's and diet, nutrition and health seems to be particularly strong, says new article from Vision

PASADENA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease--the most common type of dementia--will likely triple over the next 35 years, affecting as many as 16 million in 2050. Alzheimer's disease was only discovered about a century ago, so such a dramatic jump in numbers is alarming. What have we done to create this scenario, and what can we do to reverse it? Scientists struggle to learn more about the disease, and some of the current research is focusing on the connection between nutrition and health of the brain. But the cause remains elusive.

In an article on, "Why Alzheimer's Disease? Thinking About What We've Done," Life and Health editor Alice Abler explains, "Gender, heredity, low educational attainment levels, poorly controlled diabetes, advanced age, disrupted sleep, lack of mental activity and smoking can all be linked to memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's."

However, a nutritious diet, physical activity, social engagement and mentally stimulating pursuits might help to reduce risk.

These four factors are usually within our control and may help our brains stay healthy into old age. Studies of elderly people tested for memory and thinking skills show that "those with the poorest scores had high levels of artificial trans fats in their blood. Artificial trans fats are found in margarine, processed convenience foods and fast foods, which . . . comprise an overwhelming percentage of a typical Western diet, and current research indicates that these foods are likely harmful to our brains."

On the other hand, the right fats and cholesterol are essential for brain health, and the human brain holds about 25 percent of the body's total cholesterol content. With that in mind, Abler says, "Avoiding processed foods and instead eating foods with a high omega-3 to omega-6 ratio along with vitamin-rich vegetables would help give our brain a good defense against Alzheimer's disease."

Read the full story, "Why Alzheimer's Disease? Thinking About What We've Done," at

About Vision: is an online magazine with quarterly print issues covering a variety of social, philosophical, moral and ethical issues. For a free subscription to Vision's quarterly magazine, visit their Web site at Edwin Stepp (626) 535-0444 x 105


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