Nutrition Health Review

FALL 2017

Nutrition Health Review provides consumers updates on the latest medical research, news, trends, and products in nutrition and healthy living.

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10 N u t r i t i o n H e a l t h Rev i ew CombaƟng Alzheimer's Disease with Diet and Exercise EXERCISE I n the healthy elderly, studies show that aerobic exercise has a significant impact on promoƟng funcƟon of the hippocampus and sƟmulaƟng neuroplasƟcity, an important feature in maintaining healthy aging. 1 NeuroplasƟcity is the invaluable ability of the brain to change itself permanently in order to learn new informaƟon or skills. NeuroplasƟcity, unfortunately, is one of the cogniƟve abiliƟes threatened by Alzheimer's disease. For people with Alzheimer's, there are several studies that illustrate similar benefits of engaging in regular physical acƟvity. One study that observed a group of 200 elderly paƟents with Alzheimer's as they completed a 16-week regimen of moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise for one hour daily concluded that this regimen increased the paƟents' cardiorespiratory fitness and their abiliƟes to complete physical mulƟ-tasking. 2 Another study compared magneƟc resonance images (MRIs) from individuals who logged 150 minutes of moderate- to-vigorous physical acƟvity per week to those that engaged in no exercise and found that individuals at risk for Alzheimer's had faster rates of brain atrophy and that physical exercise could aƩenuate this brain atrophy. 3 An addiƟonal study showed that four months of exercise not only demonstrated preservaƟon of cogniƟve acƟvity but also reduced anxiety and depression in paƟents with mild Alzheimer's, parƟcularly frequent, high-intensity exercise. This suggests that the level of exercise intensity is important in achieving cogniƟve improvement. 4 While these findings do not suggest restoraƟve properƟes of exercise for paƟents with Alzheimer's, slowing down the atrophy process and decreasing anxiety and depression are invaluable ways to improve quality of life while living with Alzheimer's. COMBINING EXERCISE AND COGNITIVE TRAINING In a study that observed 18 paƟents with moderate Alzheimer's disease, 1 the paƟents partook in five one- hour exercise sessions per week for 16 weeks. The exercises were designed to develop coordinaƟon, balance, mobility, endurance, and strength. The researchers uƟlized simple training equipment, such as staƟonary bikes, medicine balls, ropes, cones, steps, tennis balls, and dumbbells. The researchers prompted the paƟents to parƟcipate in cogniƟve exercises simultaneously while carrying out the physical exercises. When a paƟent showed improvement in a parƟcular exercise, the researchers slightly increased the difficulty of the exercise. Improvement in these cogniƟve exercises and the need for increased difficulty denoted higher neuroplasƟcity. The researchers concluded that the type of conjoined therapy uƟlized in the study can help to slow the cogniƟve impairment associated with Alzheimer's disease. 1 Another study 6 conducted in 2016 included 33 parƟcipants with Alzheimer's and showed similar results. The paƟents were divided into two groups: one group parƟcipated in cogniƟve training and physical exercise over the course of six months, and the other group parƟcipated in only cogniƟve training. AŌer the six-month regimen had been completed, researchers found that the group parƟcipaƟng in exercise and cogniƟve training showed a decreased level of cogniƟve impairment, with no notable change occurring in the cogniƟve training only group. 6 DIET In the same way that our hearts and livers are affected by the food we eat, the health of our brains is also Alzheimer's: Future Treatment OpƟons T he Alzheimer's Research Center expresses great opƟmism toward the current drugs being studied for the prevenƟon and treatment of Alzheimer's. One drug currently being studied targets beta-amyloid, the chief component of brain plaques, which are clumps in the brain that are recognized as one of the major features of Alzheimer's disease. In addiƟon, another drug being developed focuses on beta- secretase (BASE), a compound that makes it possible for beta-amyloid to form. Further, scienƟsts are developing drugs to target tau protein, which is the chief component of tangled bundles of fibers within the Alzheimer's brain, called tau tangles. Researchers are also looking at inflammaƟon aŌer recognizing that beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles cause an inflammatory immune response that can damage brain cells. In addiƟon, the neurotransmiƩer 5-HT 2A receptor has gained the aƩenƟon of researchers for its potenƟal to cause overacƟve communicaƟon between neurons, resulƟng in demenƟa-related psychosis. Source: Alzheimer's Treatment Horizon. 2017. Alz- heimer's AssociaƟon. hƩps://www.alz.org/research/ science/alzheimers_treatment_horizon.asp. Accessed Dec 12 2017.

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