Metabolic syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
A risk factor is something that increases your chances of developing a disease.
What many people are unaware of is that risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome also raise the risk for Alzheimer's and related dementias.
Case in point- cardiovascular disease is related to vascular dementia- the second most common type of dementia-
and people with diabetes are nearly three times more likely to develop dementia than nondiabetics.
Most experts agree that Alzheimer's and related dementias develop as a result of multiple factors rather than a single cause.
The more risk factors you have in your life now- the higher the risk of being demented later.
The average baby boomer has a 50% percent chance of developing Alzheimer's or
a related dementia later in life!
You get a full-length Dementia Risk Profile and detailed discussion of prevention strategies in my book- You CAN Prevent Alzheimer's!
Click here to get your copy today!
Alzheimer's and the metabolic syndrome share common risk factors. The two most important are:
• Extra weight around the middle of the body (central obesity).
• Insulin resistance- in which the body cannot use insulin effectively.
Insulin is needed to help control the amount of sugar in the body.
Insulin helps blood sugar (glucose) enter brain and body cells.
If you have insulin resistance- your brain doesn't respond to insulin as well, and glucose has a difficult time getting into your brain cells.
The problem with that is- your brain needs glucose to produce energy to keep your brain cells firing.
Decreased energy levels leads to brain dysfunction and poor cell maintenance.
If brain cells cannot properly maintain themselves- they cannot perform at optimal levels- and can even die!
For this reason- you need to know about the glycemic index and the effects that various
carbohydrates have upon your glucose and insulin levels.
The Glycemic Index
The Glycemic Index is a medical term used to measure the speed at which carbohydrates break down in the digestive system to form glucose. A slower release into your system is better than a fast release that can result in a glucose 'spike'in blood sugar levels- not a good situation.
The glycemic index will show you which carbohydrates are safe- and which to avoid- and help you reduce the risk of the metabolic syndrome in your life.Click here to learn more about the glycemic index.
Body Mass and Brain Size
You may already know that obesity is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), and sleep disorders.
However- what you may not know is that not only is obesity a risk factor of the metabolic syndrome- it's also a major risk factor for Alzheimer's and related dementias.
Research shows that as the body gets larger- the brain gets smaller!
Your brain size is closely related to your Body Mass Index- or BMI. The BMI is a mathmatical formula that takes into account your hieght and weight and calculates a score.
A BMI of 18.5 to 25 is considered normal.
For every one-point gain in BMI over the normal limit- the risk of brain shrinkage increases 13-16 percent.
What's you BMI? Click here to find out!
What's in Your Arteries?
Did you know that clogged arteries from hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) along with hypertension (high blood pressure) can cost you brain cells?
Even if you do dodge a large event like a stroke- you're still at risk!
Hypertension can cause smaller events on a minute scale that over time can lead to vascular dementia- the second most common form of dementia.
Vascular dementia often occurs with Alzheimers. Together they are referred to as Mixed Dementia.
See more on this topic in the Memory Clinic
We live in a polluted world.
It is NOT the same environment we evolved in.
The quality of air you breathe and the water you drink represent risk factors for Alzheimers and related dementias.
You can decrease your risk for Alzheimer's up to 28% - simply by drinking distilled water instead of dirty tap water.
I cover this in depth in Chapter 10 (p.165) in- You CAN Prevent Alzheimers!
Air Pollution and Lung Function
If you live where you can "see" the air- pay attention!
Your brain needs optimal levels of clean oxygen to operate and maintain itself.
Exposure to high levels of air pollution more than doubles the risk of hemorrhagic stroke (bursting blood vessel).
Inhaled particles can be detected in your bloodstram as early as one minute after they are inhaled- and can remain at their maximum level in blood for up to 60 minutes.
Bad air is associated with all sorts of breathing problems- and poor lung function is a significant' risk factor for Alzheimer's and related dementias.
Stress: Public Enemy #1
Make no mistake about it- chronic stress is a major risk factor for Alzheimer's and related dementias.
Stress causes hypertension and increases inflammatory chemicals in the brain.
The end result is loss of vital connections between brain cells, and even the loss of actual brain cells.
Here's an alarming fact- if you are a caregiver- your chances of having dementia goes up sixfold!
This factor alone highlights the importance of stress management-in both your work and home environment- as your stress levels play a big role in your brain health.
Remember the mantra: Out with the bad- in with the good!
Dr. Tom Harding
Bringing You Better Brain Health!