(NaturalHealth365) Alzheimer’s disease is an extremely common and debilitating condition affecting approximately 5 million people in the United States alone. Conservative approximations have placed Alzheimer’s disease as the 6th leading cause of death in America, though the National Institute on Aging reports the prevalence of undiagnosed cases may actually place Alzheimer’s as the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S.
Despite heavy research into the disease, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s is expected to quadruple by 2050. Unfortunately, conventional research is primarily focused on the development of drugs and other synthetic substances for combating the disease, though recent research suggests the answer may be in prevention rather than treatment. In fact, scientists have found that exercise and an active lifestyle may hold the keys to brain health and cognitive strength.
Physical activity helps to keep the brain healthy
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that first begins with gradual loss of memory and then rapidly progresses into severe cognitive impairment. It can strike anyone, though some people have a genetic predisposition to developing the disease. People with the APOE epsilon4 allele (e4 gene), for example, are significantly more likely to develop Alzheimer’s versus people without that gene, but – without a doubt – lifestyle heavily influences gene expression and the risk of disease.
It has long been understood that exercise improves cardiovascular health, but new research suggests it also has a profound effect on the brain. In 2011, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic published the results of a study finding that people with the e4 gene who exercised on a regular basis had stronger brain function than those who did not exercise – proving that we have the ability to alter genetic tendencies for disease.
Even though many researchers are reluctant to say how exercise can prevent Alzheimer’s, it is known that increased activity levels improve blood flow and fat metabolism in brain. Exercise can also neutralize the loss of natural brain connections that occur with aging. In addition, frequent exercise – approximately 30 to 60 minutes of activity several times per week – can make brain cells and tissues more resistant to oxidative stress, improving long-term and short-term memory.
Of course, reducing our exposure to environmental toxins such as household chemicals and mercury plus a healthy diet can go a long way toward maintaining healthy blood flow throughout the body.
Don’t overlook the anticancer benefits of physical activity
Physical activity not only helps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but there are also additional and significant exercise benefits, one of which is cancer prevention. Cancer can occur in nearly any area of the body and may be brought on by one of many different factors, such as obesity, hormonal imbalances, toxicity issues and poor immune function. But, exercise can prevent cancer by addressing each of these issues and bring balance to the body’s metabolic systems. According to the National Cancer Institute, exercise can lower the risk of breast cancer by 30 to 40 percent and colon cancer by as much as 40 to 50 percent. That’s the power of lifestyle choices!
While mainstream scientists and physicians continue to complicate growing problems like Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, it is easy to connect the dots between many Western health problems. One common factor in the equation – chronic inflammation – is directly linked to poor diet and the lack of exercise among the average American. By adopting healthy and active lifestyles, it may be possible to prevent cancer and lower the rates of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s in the U.S. and around the world.
So, the message is simple, make time today to move – the reward is worth the effort.