Thursday, January 25, 2018

Preventing Dementia and Alzheimer’s Is a Complex Problem That Has No Easy Solution


Past studies have indicated that exercise and some other interventions can have a positive effect on brain function. Therefore, it is hoped that an intervention such as exercise, diet, or medication can be used in the treatment of diseases that affect the brain. And because of our ageing population and the impact of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease on this population, the diseases are receiving a great deal of focus. However, a recent study indicates that no single intervention appears to be a “magic bullet” in the prevention of Alzheimer’s or dementia. But there is reason for hope.

In a study where 120 older adult were investigated, the researchers concluded that exercise can have a positive effect on the brain. Indeed the researchers suggested that “aerobic exercise training is effective at reversing hippocampal volume loss in late adulthood, which is accompanied by improved memory function.”

And in another study, where 40 students were subjected to low, moderate and high intensity treadmill exercise, the investigators concluded that “In adolescents, whose brains are still developing, aerobic exercise of moderate to high intensity levels seems to have a positive effect on … cognitive functioning."

In one report where 17 studies were reviewed concerning the effect of exercise on memory, it was concluded that “Acute and chronic exercise appears to play a pronounced effect on memory function among young to middle-aged adults.” And finally, in a study, it was suggested that since “Type 2 diabetes is associated with impaired episodic memory functions and increased risk of different dementing [disorders. Diet] and exercise may potentially reverse these impairments.”

So, the above studies do give us hope that perhaps exercise, diet, and other lifestyle interventions may be prescribed to reduce the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s. But no one type of intervention should be viewed as a way to prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s.  But, still one investigator said that eating right, being active and living a healthy lifestyle “may benefit the brain…”

While there is no magic bullet to prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s, there may be actions we can take in our lives to possibly delay the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s. And health care providers, especially obesity medicine specialists, can play a role here.

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