December 30, 2022 – November, actor Chris Hemsworth Announce He will take time off to focus on his family and reevaluate his personal priorities. His decision was driven by the discovery of a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease while researching.unlimited, A National Geographic documentary series focusing on ways to slow age-related decline. Hemsworth learned that he had two copies of the APOE4 gene (one from each of his parents), which is known to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
His discovery has brought renewed attention to the role of genes in Alzheimer’s disease. Howard Philett, MD, co-founder and chief scientific officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, said that while there is reason to be concerned, there is no reason to panic.
Yes, genes increase Alzheimer’s risk, but genes are not the same as destiny, said Fillit, who is also a clinical professor of geriatrics and palliative care, medicine and neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York State. This risk can be counteracted by behaviors such as a healthy lifestyle.
What is the APOE4 gene?
One of the important functions of apolipoprotein E (APOE), encoded by the APOE gene, is “to carry and participate in the metabolism of cholesterol and to repair neurons in the brain,” explains Fillit. “It also has many other functions, including binding to beta-amyloid, which is involved in plaque formation and neuronal damage in the brain and has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.”
The APOE4 gene encodes a mutated form of APOE and is one of the most important genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. About 5 percent of the population has two copies of the APOE4 gene, and about 15 percent carry one copy of the APOE4 gene, Fillit said.
Having two copies increases a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by about 15 percent, and people with two copies may start showing symptoms up to 10 years earlier than the average person. But that doesn’t mean everyone with two copies of the gene will necessarily go on to develop Alzheimer’s.
Genes can be ‘on’ or ‘off’
Fillit noted that while a person’s genes cannot be changed, your risk can be reduced even if you have the APOE4 gene.
The Lancet Committee on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care Sure Twelve variable risk factors for the development of Alzheimer’s disease: low educational attainment, high blood pressure, hearing impairment, smoking, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, low social interaction, excessive alcohol consumption, traumatic brain injury, and air pollution. Collectively, these factors account for around 40% of dementia cases worldwide.
Research supports the role of a healthy lifestyle in improving thinking skills and memory in older adults who carry the APOE4 gene. Fillit points to Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study Prevention of Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER), a clinical trial conducted in six centers in Finland. The study found that a healthy diet and management of vascular risk factors, along with physical, cognitive and social activity, helped slow cognitive decline, even in this high-risk group.
In addition to certain congenital disorders, “our genes may affect our risk develop a condition,” but these genes can be “on” or “off,” depending on factors such as your environment, lifestyle, and age.
Brain Health Nutrition
Naidoo, who is also on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, emphasizes that a healthy diet can help stave off cognitive decline and dementia.
“As a nutritional psychiatrist, my work focuses on using healthy whole foods and nutrients to help improve mental health in the context of a healthy lifestyle through a holistic and integrative approach,” she says.
Optimizing our diet “can support healthier moods, a healthier brain, and reduce inflammation associated with the neurodegeneration that leads to Alzheimer’s disease,” continues Naidu, a professional chef, nutritional biologist and author of the book this is your food brain.
Naidoo emphasizes the relationship between intuition and memory.
“While many factors play a role, it is important to understand that many of the chemicals that control the brain and body are regulated by the gut, and the gut bacteria of patients with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s Quite different actually.”
A nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet, including foods rich in probiotics, can improve the gut microbiome — the bacteria that live in your gut — “in a way that combats Alzheimer’s development and progression,” Naidoo said.
Recent research points to the negative effects of ultra-processed foods on memory and dementia. The World Health Organization’s recommendations for lifestyle changes to prevent cognitive decline and dementia include a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains, less than 30% of total calories from fat, and less than 5 grams of salt. The World Health Organization specifically recommends a Mediterranean-style diet that limits red meat and whole-fat dairy products and consumes only low to moderate amounts of alcohol.
The World Health Organization also recommends physical activity to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
“Both aerobic exercise and strength training have been associated with improved cognitive performance and reduced cognitive decline in older adults,” said Dr Belinda Brown, deputy director of the Center for Healthy Aging at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.
“Studies have also shown that aerobic exercise increases brain volume, and there is growing evidence that yoga and tai chi may protect the brain later in life, possibly in a different way than aerobic exercise,” said Brown, whose Research focuses on understanding the role of lifestyle—especially exercise—in maintaining healthy brain aging and preventing cognitive decline and dementia. “Studies have shown that being physically active can even counteract the negative effects of APOE4.”
“Exercise” includes a range of physical activities, including sports and planned exercise, walking, biking, and even household chores. The Alzheimer’s Association offers advice on staying safe and being physically active.
The “sweet spot” of sleep
Much attention has been focused on nutrition and exercise to prevent or slow cognitive decline and dementia, but “as a society, we’re finally waking up to the importance of sleep,” says Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a Harvard Medical School faculty member in Boston.
“One of my favorite areas of sleep science is uncovering the importance of sleep from our brain’s perspective,” she said. “When we get a healthy amount of sleep and a steady amount of sleep, not only do we wake up feeling better the next day, but sleep may also play a key role in mobilizing dangerous toxic particles that build up in the brain and are essential for learning new things. a by-product of information.”
Studies have shown that the clearance of these toxic particles increases by 60% during sleep compared to wakefulness.These granules increase the accumulation of beta-amyloid, explains Robbins, also a co-author of the book sleep success.
She said there was a “U-shaped relationship” between sleep and several adverse outcomes, with both too much and too little sleep becoming a problem.
“The best health and well-being is seen in people who sleep in the ‘sweet spot’ of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. All of this points to the hypothesis that sleep plays a pivotal role in optimizing health and A very important lifestyle factor to focus on when performing.”
other lifestyle factors
Reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease involves addressing as many other risk factors as possible:
- quit smoking.
- Reduce stress and address depression; mind-body approaches and psychotherapy may help.
- Reduce exposure to air pollution.
- Work with your healthcare provider to manage conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hearing impairment, and obesity.
- Increase social and recreational activities to keep your brain active.
Who should get genetic testing?
Fillit does not recommend routine genetic testing for Alzheimer’s disease.
“I would suggest it for patients with a family history of Alzheimer’s, or if younger people — like those in their 60s or younger — are experiencing memory loss or other dementia symptoms.”
He noted that getting tested is a very personal decision.
“Some people want to know their risk, and others don’t. Some people may want to know if their child is at risk,” he said.
Having this information helps if it’s motivation to make lifestyle changes.
“The value of being tested, especially in families where a parent, sibling or grandparent has intergenerational Alzheimer’s disease, will ensure adherence to prevention programs, avoidance of risk factors, and access to advanced care plans such as advanced healthcare directives and wills in place,” Fillit said.
See below for more resources on lifestyle factors to improve brain health and prevent cognitive decline, and the role of genetics in Alzheimer’s risk.