Good news about Alzheimer’s and lifestyle

An important neuropathological study revealed

  • The most common Alzheimer’s pathology was vascular disease (which is preventable).
  • Just 10-30% of clinical Alzheimer’s cases have pure Alzheimer’s-like pathology

From @thebraindocsDrs Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, practicing neurologists:

“For a long time, researchers only focused on identifying abnormal protein deposition in the brain resulting in Alzheimer’s disease, but with advances in tools and our understanding, we now know that there is a HUGE overlap between vascular (blood vessel) disease in the brain and clinical Alzheimer’s disease. And this study helped us understand it better. 

1,161 people donated their brains to be studied after their death. Only 10-30% of the cases were pure Alzheimer’s-like pathologies, and a larger percentage of the pathologies were attributable to stroke, cerebral amyloid angiopathy (abnormal protein deposition in blood vessels), atherosclerosis, and arteriolosclerosis – all vascular diseases that are profoundly influenced by factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose metabolism – which in turn are influenced by lifestyle – what you eat, how much you move, your sleep patterns, etc.”

I have taken care of countless patients and some family members with Alzheimer’s disease. It is a nightmare for the patient and their caregivers. I want to do everything I possibly can to avoid passing this burden on to my children, and this is great news – by managing the lifestyle factors that I can control, I am significantly reducing my risk of living this nightmare myself. 

SOURCE    SOURCE

Plant Protein to Prevent Frailty

Check out THIS ARTICLE in the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle that followed 85,000 women from 1980-2010 and found that:

Women with a higher intake of plant protein had a lower risk of developing frailty after adjustment for all relevant confounders [relative risks across quintiles of consumption: 1.00, 0.94, 0.89, 0.86, and 0.86; P-trend < 0.001]. In contrast, those with a higher intake of animal protein intake had a higher risk of frailty [relative risks across quintiles of consumption: 1.00, 0.98, 0.99, 1.00, and 1.07; P-trend 0.04]. The intake of total and dairy protein showed no significant association with frailty in the full model. Substituting 5% of energy from plant protein intake at the expense of animal protein, dairy protein, or non-dairy animal protein was associated with 38% (29%, 47%), 32% (21%, 42%), and 42% (33%, 50%) reduced risk of frailty.” SOURCE

As Dr. Garth Davis stated, it’s not hard to find an online influencer and even some doctors claiming that animal protein is superior to plant protein based on the fact that rodent studies have demonstrated higher absorption of amino acids like leucine which they claim may help grow muscle & prevent sarcopenia with aging; however, is that always a good thing? Studies are showing that an aging pathway – mTOR – is activated by leucine…food for thought, for sure! And make sure to include resistance training with weights to benefit muscle preservation as you age as well!

*I’m not a physician & this isn’t medical advice*

Exercise timing and cognitive performance

This one goes out to all my high-performing friends!

We all know that  an exercise routine can improve cardiovascular health, increase bone density, maintain body weight, improve insulin response and improve balance and strength…but, did you know that movement can also lead to improved cognitive functioning? Yep, regular activity can reduce the risk of depression & anxiety, improve sleep and overall quality of life and can impact cognitive performance. 

A recent study showed that cortical oxygenation was most improved after moderate exercise while  processing speed was lower after high-intensity exercise, possibly due to fatigue. Researchers have also found that single sessions of mind-body therapies such as yoga have led to memory and processing speed improvement.

While I definitely recommend consistently incorporating a variety of movement modalities, there may be some benefit to the timing of type of exercise  as it relates to cognitive demand and performance. 

So if you have a big negotiation, presentation or meeting, maybe go for a moderate intensity workout beforehand (strength training, perhaps?) and save the HIIT training for another day or after the big *thing*. 

Read more in THIS STUDY.

Get toned at 50+

“On average, people lose about 30 percent of their muscle power between ages 50 and 70. But this doesn’t have to be; inactivity and too little protein hasten the process. Keep muscles healthy with regular strength training — a smart step that 79 percent of people in their 50s skip.” source

That muscle loss leads to decreased metabolism, and often times we take in more calories than we realize.  While it’s not good to be a slave to My Fitness Pal, it can be eye-opening to track every bite & sip you take in for a few days to get a true picture of your calories & macros.

It’s also important to vary your exercise, making sure to include strength/resistance training with weights to build muscle!!  

*as always, ask your doc before starting or changing your exercise routine or diet*

Movement strategies for healthy aging

It is so important to stay healthy and active as we age. In addition to consuming healthy whole food plant based nutrition, there’s no doubt or shortage of research on the benefits of movement and exercise to encourage strong bones & muscles, improve cardiovascular health and even cognitive function. Exercise can also reduce the risk of falls and injuries as we get older. But even if you’re not in perfect shape, you need to just START (after consulting your healthcare provider, of course and under the supervision of a certified trainer to be sure you have great form and are doing appropriate exercises). You’ll be surprised how quickly you can adapt to a new healthier lifestyle once you figure out what type of activities work best for you!

It’s never too late to start; however, there is an advantage to starting early to encourage healthy aging. What you do now determines how you’ll live a decade from now.

exercises for healthy aging

  • Low impact activities (Swimming, yoga, Pilates, walking, recumbent bike)
  • Group activities that incorporate the social aspect may increase your likelihood to participate & not skip. A few possibilities: pickle ball, tennis, golf, walking group – just make sure you don’t allow yourself to feel pressured to push harder than you should.
  • Resistance training: It’s so important to stay STRONG and avoid sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss)
  • Look for opportunities to increase general activity: studies have shown that staying more active throughout the day, providing our bodies the opportunity to increase the heart rate which improves cardiovascular health. Consider taking the stairs or the longer route to the bathroom at work, parking far away at the grocery, walking to chat with someone instead of sending an email.
  • Brain/body training: Activities that require some level of balance, agility, hand-eye coordination are great as well – again ask your healthcare provider for suggestions that are appropriate to your current ability & progress from there.