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Here is Dr. Keith Black, Chairman and Professor, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles and Director, Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at the world-renowned hospital. We are proud to have Dr. Black serve as a member of the My Brain Health Coaches Advisory Board!

Alzheimer disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease associated with cognitive decline and is the most common form of dementia in the elderly. Approximately 13% of people over the age of 65 and 45% over the age of 85 are estimated to have Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association over 5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s – and that number is expected to rise to 15 million by 2050. While that is an alarming statistic, there is another one that is far more hopeful. A recent study released in July by the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference revealed that maintaining a healthy lifestyle – particularly adhering to healthy eating habits – can help maintain brain health. The report studied the diets of 6,000 older adults and determined that those who consistently followed a ‘Mediterranean diet’ of fruits, vegetables and whole grains had a 30-35% reduced risk of developing cognitive impairment. Other dementia-reducing risk factors to take into consideration include:

- Diabetes – problems with blood sugar control are among the modifiable risk factors for Alheimer’s.
- Low education – not using your brain enough is a factor that accounts for 7% of Alzheimer cases in the US.
- Obesity – carrying additional weight during midlife accounts for another 7% of US Alzheimer cases.
- High blood pressure – it is important to keep it in check as Alzheimer cases are often linked to hypertension.
- Smoking – Here’s yet another reason to quit smoking as cigarettes account for 11% of Alzheimer cases.
- Depression – When signs occur, treatment should be sought as a significant 15% of Alzheimer cases are due to depression.
- Too Little Exercise – Not enough physical activity is the number one preventable factor that contributes to Alzheimer’s disease. Because nearly one-third of adults in the US are sedentary, this high risk factor is dangerously common.

Genes are also among the risk factors for dementia. While a quarter of Alzheimer's patients have a strong family history of the disease, only 1% directly inherit a gene mutation that causes early-onset Alzheimer's. However another gene called APOE can influence the risk for more common late-onset Alzheimer’s. There are three types of the APOE gene, called alleles, APOE2, 3 and 4. While APOE2 and 3 does not appear to influence risk, the presence of APOE4 can significantly increase the risk the risk of Alzheimer’s. As a result, detection is recommended – and the test is a simple saliva swab. Because those with the gene present are more at risk for dementia, it becomes even more mandatory to commit to a healthful and active lifestyle.

Changing your dietary pattern can change your trajectory of cognitive decline. Switching to diets that are low in saturated fats, processed flour and sugar can stem irreversible progressive brain disorder. People that consumer a lot of junk food and processed foods may end up having less brain cognition over time as they age.

Although some Alzheimer's risk factors – such as age or genes – cannot be changed the risk factors listed here can help reduce the progressive nature of the disease. For more information, I encourage you to download the PDF Ten Things Everyone Should Do For Optimum Brain Health by visiting.

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