I was fortunate to be a webinar attendee for a Genetic Summit this past summer. Experts in the field of genetics all had valuable information to impart. But the biggest “take away” from the summit was the common belief that genetic predisposition or having certain genes for many diseases is only activated when a trigger is introduced.
That is, our lifestyle is more often the biggest factor for some health issues, not our genes or family history of illness. In fact, some diseases are even reversible with lifestyle, diet, and behavior modification. The consensus is that genetic disorders are only 15% responsible for some diseases and 85% is up to us.
Regarding Alzheimer’s and the gene most related to a predisposition, it is now believed that only about 25% of cases are directly gene related.
“Scientists have so far identified several risk genes implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. The risk gene with the strongest influence is called apolipoprotein E-e4 (APOE-e4). Scientists estimate that APOE-e4 may be a factor in only 20 to 25 percent of Alzheimer’s cases.”
So, what are ways to reduce risk, with or without genetic predisposition?
Because Alzheimer’s disease is being labeled as Diabetes Type 3 by researchers, it is best to pay attention to all factors that contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes. Diets should be low in processed carbohydrates and refined sugar. Eating a nutritionally dense diet to include healthy fats, good quality proteins, and non-starchy vegetables should be the bulk of one’s diet. Grains, fruits and starchy vegetables should be consumed in moderation only.
Exercise, such as walking daily, even if only 15-30 minutes, whether outdoors or inside around your home, is beneficial for prevention of not only insulin resistance and diabetes, but for Alzheimer’s too.
Another big factor for triggering Alzheimer’s disease is chronic, systemic inflammation. Inflammation can come from food sensitivities or allergies, environmental or chemical toxins, ongoing infections of viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites, and for some heavy metal contamination from mercury amalgams in teeth to heavy metals in water supplies. All current or potential causes of chronic inflammation should be investigated, addressed, avoided, and eliminated as best possible.
And one factor not often discussed is healthy levels of cholesterol. The cells in our brains need some cholesterol for function. Increases in Alzheimer diagnosis in younger and younger populations is felt to be directly tied to statin medications. So if you use statin medications, work with your health care team to maintain a healthy balance of good cholesterol levels, but not so low as to affect brain cell function.
You have more control than you know over which genetic health issues will manifest in your life.
Even if you have a long history in your family for certain problems, many times it’s a perpetuated diet, lifestyle and behavior, generation after generation that is a bigger contributory factor versus genetics. Know your risks, do what you can, and work with your medical team. It is easier to prevent problems than it is to try to reverse them. And even if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s , make it a point to start making any changes possible to slow down progression as you work to eliminate causes.