Alzheimer's Disease has been a controversial topic studied in many science fields. It has been thought of to be the best known and most feared form of dementia and can affect personal relationships with family and friends, cause extreme amounts of stress, and interrupt daily activities as if progresses. Sadly, many individuals who experience this disease end up forgetting large portions of their lives, including losing recognition of their significant others, sons and daughters, siblings, and life-long friends.
As sad as this disease is, it also has sparked interest and research that has the potential to change the way people live. According to this article, studies have shown that dementia can still be maintained/reversed, even at an older age. The earlier positive lifestyle changes are made, the more successful in keeping the brain healthy and young people will be.
Dr. Gary Small from the UCLA Longevity Center says that "lifestyle may play a bigger role than genetics when it comes to who will fall into what he calls the "mental fog" of dementia".
Older generations (age 80-90) inflicted with Alzheimer's can prevent or delay genetic components related to the disease by implementing lifestyle changes, especially if these changes are put into place during the early and middle stages of life. Three particular lifestyle changes have been researched and contribute to a healthy and younger hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for forming memories. The most important to keeping a younger brain is to stay physically fit, combined with social interaction and mental challenges. Dr. Majid Fotuhi, a neurology professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, recommends dancing as a great physical activity that ties all three elements.
Using MRI scans, it has been shown that the size of the hippocampus does increase with a moderate amount of exercise. After age 50, the hippocampus starts to lose volume at a rate of approximately 1% of its volume every two years. During a study mentioned in this article, an experiment was done to compare the "age" of the hippocampi of a group of adults that walked three times per week and a group that participated in a stretching routine. After a year, those who exercised showed an average volume increase of 2%, which equivalates to a year or two younger. It also showed an increase in memory from the start of the experiment.
"This is cutting edge. We can reverse the atrophy that happens to the brain with aging, particularly the hippocampus", says Faotuhi. Alzheimer's was thought of as an irreversible, incurable disease and with these findings, there is potential to eliminate its devastation altogether.