I just spotted a little article[i] about “four modifiable risk factors” that can potentially “…cut the growing global incidence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD…” As I’ve written about before, both AD and PD are very personal to me: my Grandmother died of dementia and I currently have 3 friends diagnosed, in their 40s and 50s (which is insane), with PD. As you know, I particularly like research that suggests ideas for things you can do NOW.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada state that reducing neuroinflammation could prevent many cases of both illnesses. “Both AD and PD are characterized by disease-specific pathologic stimuli. This results in gliosis [activation of the brain’s immune system] and eventually leads to a chronic neuroinflammatory state.”
- Increasing physical activity. Lack of physical activity is estimated to contribute to 13% of AD cases. According to these researchers, a 25% increase in the number of people participating in physical activity could prevent 1.5 million cases of AD in the world. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with a two-fold increased PD risk, and is known to improve abnormal gait and balance issues. The scientists conclude that , “…the best way to prevent PD is physical exercise, including walking, jogging, swimming, and tai-chi.”
- Reducing hypertension. Hypertension increases the risk of AD by 50%. (Holy cow!) One study in Finland showed that hypertension was associated with a greater than 60% increased in risk for PD in women. Also, hypercholesterolemia is associated with an increased risk in both AD and PD.
- The research is not yet there really, but a Mediterranean diet is “a good idea,” according to these researchers. Certainly, keeping a healthy body weight is crucial. Obesity is highly associated with the development of both PD and AD.
- Diabetes is also a major risk factors for both illnesses
It’s always a chicken and egg issue, but both illnesses are also highly associated with alterations in the gut biome. Then again – so is obesity, and cardiovascular illnesses, and diabetes. Recently too, researchers at Harvard[ii] found that the bacterial microbiomes of elite athletes are different, and are commercializing a corresponding new probiotic. Physical activity clearly benefits the biome. So clearly, all this is clearly interrelated.