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Exercise and a Mediterranean Diet Lower the Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

Posted Aug 19 2009 6:20pm

In previous note, I presented data that showed a correlation between serum cholesterol levels and both ischemic dementia and Alzheimer's disease (see: Even Moderate Elevations of Cholesterol Predispose to the Two Types of Dementia ). Now comes another article describing how exercise and a Mediterranean diet can provide protection from Alzheimer's (see: Exercise and Mediterranean-type diet combined associated with lower risk for Alzheimer's ), Below is an excerpt from it:

Both being more physically active and adhering to a Mediterranean-type diet appears to be associated with reduced Alzheimer's risk, according to a...report in ...JAMA.While previous studies have only investigated the association between either physical activity or diet and Alzheimer's disease risk separately, this new research explored their combined association....A Mediterranean-type diet is typically characterized by high intake of fish, vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals and monounsaturated fatty acids; relatively low intake of dairy products, meats and saturated fats; and moderate alcohol consumption.The study found that those subjects who were very physically active had a 33 percent risk reduction of Alzheimer's; those who adhered more strongly to a Mediterranean-type diet had a 40 percent risk reduction...."So it seemed that the more that they were doing in terms of both diet and exercise, the lower was their risk for the disease," said [the lead author].[He] further noted that even low degrees of physical activity reported by these elderly study subjects seemed to be associated with having a protective effect against Alzheimer's

There are a number of good reasons to exercise and consume a healthy diet relating to cardiac health alone. Now apparently added to this list of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle is the possible avoidance of Alzheimer's disease. It has occurred to me on the basis of these two articles that Alzheimer's may correlate in some way with cerebral ischemia similar to ischemic dementia. The histopathologic changes associated with Alzheimer's may thus be the final common pathway of a number of insults, one of which is ischemia. Research has shown that various vascular risk factors do correlate with a greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. In one study, these factors were defined as high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and smoking. Diabetes and smoking by themselves were associated with the highest risk. People with three or more vascular risk factors had nearly three-and-one-half times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s as those with none of them.

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