Genetics Not the Only Factor for Alzheimers

Lifestyle Could Play Just as Big a Roll in Alzheimer’s Risk

  A ground-breaking study published by Oxford Academics Brain: A Journal of Neurology, and reported by Science Daily, offers new insight into why some people develop Alzheimers disease  the most common neurodegenerative disease that affects more than 50 million people worldwide  and others do not.   In this study, which is the first of its kind to analyze Alzheimer’s disease among identical triplets, researchers found that despite sharing the same DNA, two of the triplets developed Alzheimer’s disease while one did not. The team conducting the study believes that the predisposition for Alzheimer’s is likely connected to a specific gene which has been linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The gene, called apolipoprotein E4  otherwise known as APOE4, is one that each triplet carried, which is an exciting discovery! As Dr. Morris Freedman, a senior author on the paper, head of neurology at Baycrest and scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute, states:  

“These findings show that your genetic code doesn’t dictate whether you are guaranteed to develop Alzheimer’s”

  Dr. Freeman noted that the findings prove there are other unknown factors, perhaps environmental or lifestyle-related, that could either protect against or accelerate dementia. While the factors have yet to be determined, Dr. Freeman believes the findings of this study offer hope for people who have a strong family history of dementia.”     The study also reveals other interesting details that suggest, even though the triplets were born with the exact same, identical DNA, they did not share the same disease modality or progression. For example, all three, 85-year-old siblings had hypertension, but only the two with Alzheimer’s had long-standing, obsessive-compulsive behaviour. The third did not. According to Dr. Ekaterina Rogaeva, another senior author on the paper and researcher at the University of Toronto’s Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases:  

“The latest genetics research is finding that the DNA we die with isn’t necessarily what we received as a baby, which could relate to why two of the triplets developed Alzheimer’s and one didn’t&As we age, our DNA ages with us and as a result, some cells could mutate and change over time.”

  The findings of this study are aligned with the long-standing belief amongst Team Sherzai, that we have far more control over enhancing our brains and preventing Alzheimers disease than previously believed. In fact, as we mention on Rich Roll podcast episode 330, we believe that 90% of all Alzheimers cases can be prevented, and for the 10% with a strong genetic risk for cognitive decline, the disease can be delayed for ten to fifteen years.     In our book, The Alzheimers Solution, we outline healthy behaviours and lifestyle choices that directly support your brain and help prevent Alzheimers disease. The NEURO plan we have outlined is basic, with no false promises, misleading steps or magical potions. The Plan consists of basic health behaviors that are fundamental to disease prevention, and readily available to anyone willing to embrace them.   The NEURO plan consists of:  
  • Nutrition (enjoying a whole food, plant-based diet low in sugar, salt and processed foods)
  • Exercise (combining strenuous workouts four or five times a week with an active lifestyle that keeps you moving throughout the day)
  • Unwind (by managing stress through mindfulness or other techniques)
  • Restore (by getting seven to eight hours of detoxifying sleep)
  • Optimize (by staying socially engaged and pursuing activities that challenge your mind).
  For more information about the NEURO plan and to access additional resources to build a healthy brain together, visit Team Sherzai.