A new report by the Alzheimer's Association says that in the U.S., 12% to 18% of people age 60 or older are living with MCI -- that's mild cognitive impairment. Every year, around 10% to 15% of those folks will develop full-blown dementia. In five years, 30% will have Alzheimer's.
That's why it's important to understand that MCI isn't a normal part of aging. Fortunately, we know there are some risk factors for MCI that you can avoid or reverse -- and doing that will greatly reduce your risk for dementia. The risk factors are: diabetes, inadequate sleep, smoking, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, excess added sugar, obesity, depression, inactivity, isolation and lack of doing speed-of-processing games.
Why do those risk factors damage your brain? Another study has figured out that your pancreas, body fat, muscle and liver, which are sensitive to glucose and insulin, secrete amyloid beta. And when levels of amyloid beta are constantly elevated (as happens with diabetes and other risk factors), that keeps amyloid beta that's in the brain from flowing out. It accumulates, contributing to the development of amyloid tangles and Alzheimer's. Then there's additional research that shows as nerve cells in the brain try to cope with an ever-more toxic environment, they alter their structure and interfere with healthy gene expression in the brain's neurons, worsening dementia.
To protect your brain, start today with smart choices in nutrition, sleep and stress-response habits, exercise, and learning and social activities. That'll help you untangle the toxic tangle that leads from MCI to dementia.
Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email questions@GreatAgeReboot.com.
(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.