With the project "Knowledge stops Dementia", the German Foundation for Health Information and Prevention (Deutsche Stiftung für Gesundheitsinformation und Prävention DSGiP), together with the Academy for Human Medicine (Akademie für menschliche Medizin), presents a broad spectrum of lifestyle-oriented measures for the prevention and therapy of Alzheimer's disease. In addition to Alzheimer's dementia, however, other neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease also pose a major challenge for those affected, their relatives and, ultimately, the healthcare system, since the prospect of a cure through pharmaceutical approaches is still a long way in the future. But the good news is, individualized lifestyle concepts seem to be effective also in these diseases.
Our brain is one of the largest glucose consumers in our body. Not all areas of the brain need the hormone insulin to take up glucose and thus operate insulin-independently. However, this is different in the neurons of the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for our memory consolidation and one of the first to be affected by Alzheimer's and dementia: here - as researchers have recently discovered - insulin is needed to provide the neurons with sufficient glucose supply during times of increased energy demand. Thus, it's not surprising that when insulin resistance is present, for example during developing or established type-2 diabetes, the brain can also suffer from a glucose deficiency. This impaired glucose utilization and the associated energy crisis in the brain have also been visualized in imaging techniques, the so-called PET scan, in Alzheimer's patients.
It has been known for quite some time that a disturbance in blood glucose and insulin metabolism plays a central role not only in diabetes, but also in Alzheimer's disease. When insulin, which is important for glucose utilization, can no longer work properly due to missing or damaged insulin receptors, the so-called insulin resistance occurs. This also applies to the brain, where it is called cerebral insulin resistance. If this occurs, our central nervous system may experience an energy deficiency despite high glucose levels in the blood. The resulting starvation state of the brain gradually leads to the cessation of its specific functions and the death of brain cells, which is particularly noticeable in the impairment of memory. Therefore, maintaining or restoring the energy metabolism of the brain is of crucial importance, especially at the beginning of Alzheimer's disease.
It seems like a miracle: a late-stage Alzheimer's patient, completely immersed in dementia and cut off from his environment and his own identity. But when he hears the sounds of familiar pieces of music selected for him from his former life, he wakes up from his apathy, starts to laugh, talk, move and becomes 'alive' again!
The relation between lifestyle and Alzheimer’s disease has been previously described in many studies. It has become well established that lifestyle interventions can prevent the onset of the disease in about 40% (as we reported in a previous NF based on the 12 Alzheimer’s disease prevention factors listed by The Lancet commission on Dementia). The Finnish FINGER study (Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study 2015) has also already impressively shown these correlations
Can aerobic exercises reduce cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients? – Results from a new randomized controlled trial.
Physical exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, contributing to general fitness, muscle control and coordination, and to a sense of wellbeing. Physical exercise is also essential for maintaining adequate blood flow to the brain and may stimulate brain cell growth and survival. Evidence of the effects of physical exercise in the prevention of dementia have been supported by many observational studies. The results of randomized trials suggest that exercise leads to increases in brain tissue, including the hippocampus and elevate blood levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), stimulating the formation of new nerve cells.
The human brain is an extremely sensitive organ. Therefore, it must also be particularly protected from toxins and pathogens. The supply of messenger substances and the removal of metabolic products must also be precisely regulated. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) has exactly this function and separates the central nervous system from the rest of the body's blood circulation. The BBB acts as a shield, protecting the brain from infectious agents and toxic substances, but must also act as a filter, allowing nutrients to get inside the central nervous system.
Nutritional drink against early-stage Alzheimer’s? First non-pharmacological study to show long-term success.
Can the course of early Alzheimer's disease be delayed by consuming a special mixture of nutrients? This question was investigated in the European study called 'LipiDiDiet' led by Prof. Tobias Hartmann. The scientists recruited Alzheimer's patients, who were in the early stages of the disease, to test the effectiveness of a specific nutritional drink called 'Souvenaid'. Souvenaid was developed as a medical dietary food for the treatment of early-stage Alzheimer's disease and is marketed by Nutricia (Danone Group). It contains a defined nutrient combination of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, phospholipids, choline, B vitamins (B6, B12 and folic acid), vitamins C and E, selenium and uridine monophosphate.
With the project ‘Knowledge stops Dementia’, the Deutsche Stiftung für Gesundheitsinformation und Prävention, together with the Akademie für menschliche Medizin, presents a broad spectrum of measures to prevent the development of dementia. Within preventive measures, speech therapy offers an important therapeutic component that enables dementia patients to maintain contact with their environment. Especially in the early stages of the disease, no time should be lost and no one should hesitate to seek speech therapy treatment.
The fact that our health begins in the gut has been known for thousands of years. Today it is clear that our intestines are more than just a "digestive tube", as this important organ fulfils a variety of other functions. For example, a disturbance of gut health is directly related to the development of chronic diseases. The intestinal flora, i.e. the microbial colonization of the intestinal mucosa, plays a particularly important role in this process. The intestinal flora is also known as the 'intestinal microbiota'. It is the most important part of our immune system and thus offers us effective protection against infection.