Carvings August 15, 2022

In the news

Two strategies to avoid Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.

            An aging population is plagued with dementia, one form of which is Alzheimer’s Disease but there’s more to it than just getting older. Among hunter-gatherers in Africa over the age of 70 the incidence of dementia is nearly zero. Recent studies may reveal why mental deterioration is nearly 20 times greater among “civilized” folks than among persons with a primitive lifestyle. And the answer is not because they don’t live as long as we do.

            The evidence is mounting quickly that ultra-processed foods (UPFs) are associated with vascular dementia, the damage caused by narrowing and distortion of blood vessels that supply the brain, reducing the availability of nutrients and hampering the removal of waste products.

            Are there UPFs in your pantry? These are foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt and low in fiber, antioxidants and protein as well as vitamins and essential minerals. Here’s the list. Read it and weep!:

            Soft drinks, chips, fries, ice cream, flavored cereals, cookies, milk chocolate, fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, packaged soups, sausage, hot dogs, candy. There are more of course but I didn’t want to rub it in!

            Persons with the highest intake of ultraprocessed foods had more than twice the incidence of vascular dementia than those with the least. These UPFs also predispose to obesity and diabetes, both of which are linked to dementia.

            The good news is that by substituting healthy foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables and whole-grains for junk foods there is a measurable decrease in the risk of dementia

And there’s more good news. In two separate studies those who received the flu vaccine were 40 percent and 30 percent, respectively, less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease.

In another study, persons between the ages of 65 and 75 who received the pneumonia vaccine had a 30% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

There are several possible reasons for these vaccine-associated benefits. By boosting the immune system to counter specific agents such as the influenza virus or the pneumonia bacterium, the vaccines also produce a generalized improvement in the functioning of the immune system, which helps to reduce the accumulation of abnormal proteins that interfere with brain cell connections. Conversely, influenza infection degrades the immune system, making it less able to “clean up” those harmful proteins.

Another reason is that infection produces inflammation, which drives both Alzheimer’s Disease and vascular dementia.

Then again, persons who receive these vaccines might ward off dementia simply because they take better care of themselves by eating healthier foods, keeping their weight down, exercising regularly and having a glass or two of red wine every day. 😉

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