What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

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Alzheimer’s is defined as a progressive deterioration within the brain that can occur in middle or old age. However, It’s preventable and not a normal part of aging!

The name itself refers to the German psychiatrist and pathologist Dr. Aloysius Alzheimer. In 1901 he observed that one of his patients at the Frankfurt Asylum, and only fifty one year’s old, exhibited unusual behavior symptoms. This included short-term memory loss. After his patient’s death Alzheimer and other researchers dissected his brain. They found amyloid plaque and other neurological changes.

what is alzheimer's disease

How A Healthy Brain Functions

In a healthy brain, neurons connect and communicate with each other at certain locations. These locations are called synapses. But invasive plaques and neurological tangles interfere with this communication. This causes permanent damage to the brain’s communication network.

Healthy brain cells start dying off.

By 1911 Alzheimer’s detection of the disease was being used by European doctors to diagnose patients.

What is Dementia?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It’s not just a problem of memory loss, though. It also refers to the inability to learn, reason, and have certain feelings.

Other types of dementia include cognitive impairment, Parkinson’s disease, dementia pugilistica, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The brain changes that accompany Alzheimer’s affect the parts of the brain that control thinking, decision making, moods, and memory. Once the classic behavioral symptoms develop, there’s really no cure.

Alzheimer’s is considered the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is not fatal though.

Alzheimer’s is often associated with other unhealthy conditions that can be a direct cause of death. This makes it difficult to know whether Alzheimer’s plays a direct role in the death.

Whether or not it does, Alzheimer’s absolutely affects quality of life.

How Alzheimer’s Progresses

Alzheimer’s is a progressive condition. The dementia gradually worsens over time. On average, people with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable.

Given its aging baby boomer population, the United States is seeing a steady increase in people suffering from Alzheimer’s. The disease currently affects five million Americans. The number is much higher for those with early onset or barely recognizable signs.

As Alzheimer’s progresses, the brain produces less acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter important for many brain functions including memory. Acetylcholine is made in the body from the nutrient choline. Choline is found in your diet. It’s especially high in egg yolks.

Phosphorus is another important neuro-nutrient. The Alzheimer’s brain contains much less phosphatides which is made from phosphorous. Food sources high in this nutrient include: broccoli, tomatoes, and organ meats. Omega-3 fats have been shown to improve brain function, including learning and memory. These fats have a neuro-protective effect.

Alzheimer’s disease is usually accompanied by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress contributes to cognitive decline and neurodegeneration. Both antioxidants and phytonutrients are important for the role they play in controlling oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.

If you feel stuck and need additional support to adopt a new healthy habit or routine, consider working with me. We can partner up in setting goals, drawing on your skills and strengths, and implementing strategies to help you find your way to lasting healthy success.

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For over 15 years, Shelli has been a freelance writer and wellness coach on Joyinmovement. She writes about brain fitness, creating a healthy lifestyle, traveling the world, and making positive habits stick. Stop procrastinating! Take action, join her free newsletter.

 

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