Healthy Living

Genetics and Lifestyle Choices Both Play a Role in How Alzheimer's Develops

Genetics and Lifestyle Choices Both Play a Role in How Alzheimer's Develops

More research on Alzheimer’s disease reveals that while there are health factors out of everyone's control, such as age and genetics, other factors can be influenced by diet, exercise & environment.  In particular, there is considerable evidence and correlations between mental exercise, body fitness, social interaction, and the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Genetic factors

While the exact cause for all cases of Alzheimer’s isn’t fully known, scientists have determined the cause for a few rare cases and hypothesize the others may be a tangle of factors. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are deterministic genes that can be directly linked. The genes responsible for coding the proteins amyloid precursor protein (APP) are presenilin-1 (PS-1) and presenilin-2 (PS-2), so if these genes vary from normal, then dementia is guaranteed. In these cases, Alzheimer’s is hereditary, but this is not a typical example of the disease. In fact, it only affects one percent of cases. Additionally, these gene disorders have only been found in a few hundred families in the entire world.

Other genes pose as risk factors, but not guarantees. As of yet, scientists do not recommend genetic testing for Alzheimer’s.

A look at the mind, body, emotions and spirit 

Much more compelling warnings than any of the evidence for genetics, however, lie in the study of how people use their mind, body and emotions.

According to Psychology Today, a report by Lancet Commissions reads that their research proved that one in three cases of dementia were preventable. Certain factors, such as diet, mental exertion and exercise can all contribute to a decreased risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease. 

Factors for the mind:

  • Learning: The experts recommended obtaining as good a level of education as possible, at least until high school level. In addition to academic learning, learning other things like hobbies and trades may be valuable.
  • Mental activity: Invigorating exercises to send the mind pumping neurons act as the brain’s workout. The more the mind is challenged, the more it has to work and make connections to solve problems, keeping it sharp and quick. Exercises to consider include solving puzzles, playing games, reading a book, or doing anything that will cause the brain to be actively engaged.
  • Calm down and do something fun: Research shows a correlation between depression and Alzheimer’s, though we do not know which one is the direct cause of the other, or if they may be a part of two separate issues. Either way, studies suggest depressed people are at a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and often the devastating effects of dementia cause patients to be depressed. Activities such as yoga, coloring, reading a book, writing random thoughts in a journal, or taking a walk are a meaningful ideas that help ease stress and tension, and they are beneficial for other reasons as well, including physical fitness and feeling accomplished as a productive and creative activity.  Setting aside a few minutes a day to do something fun or relaxing can make a huge difference for the rest of the day, and take the mind off the constant pressures of normal life.