Medications and Diets That Increase Risk
Recent studies link an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease to common medications like cold tablets and an unhealthy diet. Find out more here.
Could the anti-allergic pills cause Alzheimer’s disease? Maybe, yes. Many studies have shown taking certain medications could boost the risk. Continue reading this article to know how the common medications and nutritional factors may increase your risk.
You are wrong if you think forgetfulness is a sign of aging. But when it starts interfering with your daily activities, you should seek a professional help. In fact, it could be a symptom of a fatal brain disorder called Alzheimer’s disease. Let’s get it clear, Alzheimer’s disease is NOT a normal part of aging.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of degenerative brain disorder in which the patients have a gradual loss of memory and thinking abilities. As a result, they have behavioral problems. The disease worsens over time and becomes severe enough to cause problems with carrying out daily activities.
Alzheimer’s disease is a silent killer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is one of the top ten killers in the United States, at the sixth position. Unfortunately, the death rates due to this debilitating disorder have increased by more than 50% between 1999 and 2014. To make things worse, it has no cure. However, some treatments may help to prevent worsening of the symptoms.
Alzheimer’s Disease: The Pills In Your Medicine Box May Be The Culprits
A wealth of study has explored a link between some common medications and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Most notably, a class of medications called anticholinergics has been strongly associated with an increased risk. They work by blocking the activity of a brain chemical acetylcholine inside the brain or in the peripheral nervous system. Note that reduced acetylcholine activity in the brain is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
Anticholinergic medications are used to treat numerous health conditions. For example, an overactive bladder, seasonal allergies, and depression. The risk may be significantly higher if you use any of the anticholinergic agents for more than 2 years continuously.
Here is the list of some common medications you should think twice before using.
Note: This is not a complete list of the medications that can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, any anticholinergic agent can put you in the red zone, especially when you take them for prolonged periods. Simply put, the greater the anticholinergic activity, the greater is the risk.
What You Can Do
Before taking a pill, make sure you learn enough about it. Also, do not take them for a long time. In addition, ask your doctor if safer alternatives are available. For example, instead of taking Amitriptyline for depression (an anticholinergic), you may opt for a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor like Prozac or Celexa. Likewise, you may ask your doctor to replace older antiallergic medications with new generation drugs.
Poor Nutrition Could Lead To Alzheimer’s Disease
No doubt, nutrition has something to do with any illness you may have. By the same token, poor nutrition could be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Various studies have suggested a positive association between high blood levels of cholesterol and AD. That said, when you take a high-fat diet, your cholesterol levels will rise thus making you more prone to AD. Taking trans-fats, commonly found in processed foods, can boost the risk by more than two times.
Another thing to watch out for when you use an oil is to limit your intake of omega-6-fatty acids. Sunflower, corn, Soybean and cottonseed oils are rich in omega-6-fatty acids. Thus, they are not good for brain health. Instead, you may want to use the oils rich in healthy omega-3-fatty acids such as fish oils. Higher consumption of fish oils has been linked with a lower risk of AD in several studies.
Take Vitamin E-rich Foods To Ward off Alzheimer’s Disease
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect the brain cells from oxidative damages and inflammation. Studies suggest taking all the eight forms of vitamin E might be more effective than taking alpha-tocopherol. Most supplements in the market contain only the alpha form. Thus, you should ask for the supplements that contain other forms like delta- and gamma- tocopherol.
Deltanol, a high-quality product from Premier Research Labs could be your option. Unlike most other supplements. It contains potentially more powerful antioxidants like gamma and delta tocotrienols.
Some studies also suggest vitamin C could hold the key to a reduced risk of AD. However, the results are not conclusive and we may have to wait for some years before a clearer picture emerges. But there is no harm in taking more vitamin C considering its myriad of health benefits.
Don’t Forget The Power of Green Tea and Phosphatidylserine in Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease
Green tea compound epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG) has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective activities. Meaning, it can protect the brain cells from the damages caused by harmful free radicals and protein clumps. In AD, the accumulation of the proteins called β-amyloid peptide and tau protein cause inflammation and subsequent reduction in the mental functions.
Interestingly, measurable EGCG may be present in the brain within just 5 days after taking green tea. Need more reasons to take a cup every day?
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a fat that covers the brain cells. AD causes degeneration of the cells by some unknown mechanisms. For this reason, taking foods rich in PS could help to prevent the degeneration. Some rich sources of PS are soybeans, tuna, chicken legs, and liver. According to a 2015 study, PS improves memory and reduces inflammation in the brain.
● Common medications may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, avoid taking them for prolonged periods. Take an extra care if you are over 60 years.
● A healthy diet is key to preventing this fatal condition. Conversely, a bad diet loaded with fats and cholesterol could prove dangerous.
● Increase your intake of vitamin E by taking foods like whole grains, avocados, apples, nuts, and melon. Consider taking a supplement when your diet does not fulfill your requirements.
● Consult your doctor immediately if the problems with memory and thinking persist or interfere with your daily activities.
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- Morris, M.C. “The role of nutrition in Alzheimer’s disease: epidemiological evidence” European Journal of Neurology 2009 Sep; 16(Suppl 1): 1–7.
- Gray, Shelly L., et al. “Cumulative Use of Strong Anticholinergics and Incident Dementia A Prospective Cohort Study” JAMA Internal Medicine 2015;175(3):401-407.
- Kihara, T., et al. “Alzheimer’s disease and acetylcholine receptors.” Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis 2004;64(1):99-105.
- Singh, Neha Atulkumar., et al. “Potential neuroprotective properties of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG)” Nutrition Journal 2016; 15: 60.
- Zhang, YY., et al. “Effect of phosphatidylserine on memory in patients and rats with Alzheimer’s disease.” Genetics and Molecular Research 2015 Aug 10;14(3):9325-33.