According to the Alzheimer's Disease report from the CDC, about 5 million people in the US suffer from Alzheimer's disease. The older you get after age 60, the higher your risk for the disease. And the disease ranks in the top ten causes of death in the United States. While heart disease rates are declining, Alzheimer's disease is increasing.
It is truly an ugly disease that steals family members. I know this first hand, because my grandmother died at a relatively young age from the disease. I recall trying to let her know who I was, as she had no idea and I just remember staring into her eyes, which no longer had her soul in them.
While scientists know that age is one leading risk factor for the disease, along with family history, there is still a lot more to learn with what other factors cause Alzheimer's Disease.
The good news is that according to this study published by the The Journal of American Medicine, individuals who participated in higher physical activity and adhered to a Mediterranean style diet, had a lower risk of Alzheimer's Disease. There have been previous studies conducted, where either a Mediterranean style diet or higher physical activity was associated with a reduced risk for the disease, but no study had reviewed the combined effect on risk factor for the disease with both. The study concluded that for those individuals who didn't adhere to to the healthy Mediterranean diet and did not exercise, their absolute risk for the disease was 19% compared to those individuals who both adhered to the diet and participated in high physical activity whose risk went down to 12%. And according to this study, just adhering to the Mediterranean diet, which consists of a higher consumption of nuts, fish,tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, fruits, dark and leafy vegetables and reduced consumption of high-fat dairy, red meat and butter could be associated with a reduced risk for Alzheimer's.
I know that this information resonates with me and I am willing to adhere to a better diet and continue my daily routine of regular physical activity. But what about the rest of the country? The diet and lifestyle of Americans needs to change for the better before we can realize a decrease in the new cases of Alzheimer's Disease reported each year. More education and awareness campaigns need to happen to get the word out that a healthy lifestyle and diet are necessities to improved future health.