The progressive, degenerative brain disease of Alzheimer’s which is one form of dementia affects memory, thinking and behavior. This debilitating disease has an adverse impact on the faculties of language, judgment, decision-making ability, attention, and other areas of mental function and personality. Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, the goal of treatment is to slow down the progression of the disease, modify the home atmosphere and manage behavior problems, agitation and confusion through medication, lifestyle changes and antioxidant supplements. Research continues on finding ways to discover means that would arrest its occurrence or treat the disease.
The risk for Alzheimer’s disease is lowered among older people who exercise and also among those who eat a Mediterranean-style diet. A recent study has found that the effects of the two lifestyle behaviors operate independent of each other. Together, they seem to add up. This study which was undertaken in Columbia University tracked a diverse group of 1,880 septuagenarians from New York, and assessed their diets and levels of physical activity. Periodic screening for Alzheimer’s disease was also done. 282 cases of Alzheimer’s were identified after an average of 5 years.
It was found that those who followed the healthiest diets were likely to develop Alzheimer’s by 40 percent less than those with the worst diets. Those septuagenarians who got the most exercise were likely to develop the disease 37 percent less than those who got none. It was found that those who, both ate healthfully and remained active experienced the greatest benefits.
Those participants who scored in the top third, in terms of both diet and exercise were 59 percent less likely than those in the lowest third to receive an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas, associate professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center and first author of the paper which was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association stated, that it’s a bigger effect since each of the behaviors are independent and each is contributing something unique.