Shocking Stats of Alzheimer’s Disease & What You Can Do To Lower Your Risk

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April 3, 2015 by Dr. Sana Keller

Alzheimer’s Disease

Just the words strike fear in most…not surprisingly, since Alzheimer’s disease is now the 6th leading cause of death in the US. From 2000 to 2010, there was a 68% increase in deaths from Alzheimer’s disease, while deaths from other major diseases, including heart disease, have decreased. The Alzheimer’s Association claims that Alzheimer’s disease is the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that CANNOT BE PREVENTED, CURED OR SLOWED DOWN (emphasis theirs). I DISAGREE (emphasis mine) with that statement since several lifestyle measures have been found to lower the risk of developing this dreaded disease.


Shocking Stats

The thought of losing our memory or the ability to think clearly is frightening. NBC News’ recent report on the dramatically increasing numbers of those facing Alzheimer’s in the years to come (1 in 9 people over age 65 and 1 in 3 over age 85) is alarming—especially when there is next-to-nothing mentioned about effective ways of reducing this risk.

What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?

Experts tend to agree that Alzheimer’s disease develops as a result of interactions among multiple variables, including age, genetics, environment, lifestyle, and other medical conditions. The link between serious head trauma and developing Alzheimer’s in the future continues to gain recognition as well.


Although certain factors that contribute to cognitive decline cannot be modified, such as family history, education level and brain injury, other factors that can play a role in cognitive decline can be modified such as medication side effects, vitamin deficiencies, exercise frequency, sugar intake and overall dietary intake.

What To Do?      ad2

Current drugs may help mask the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but don’t actually treat the disease or delay its progression. Other experimental drugs are being tested for effectiveness in reversing the disease. This is where most media coverage ends. However, there is plenty that can be done to reduce your risk of this potentially devastating disease.

Brain Health Basics

Keeping our brain healthy is the best way of lowering your Alzheimer’s disease risk. The measures listed below have been studied for their effects on the brain with positive findings in promoting brain health:


  • A ‘Whole Foods’ diet consisting mostly of fresh (or frozen) vegetables, especially green leafy options; fresh (or frozen) fruit, especially berries; whole grains; quality organic protein and appropriate amounts of healthy fats   {A ‘Whole Foods’ diet is basically the opposite of a ‘Processed Foods’ diet}
  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, herring & sardines
  • Optimal Vitamin D levels
  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Regular exercise/workouts

This is not an exhaustive list of healthy measures–rather an attempt to highlight areas where we have control in managing our health!

This Infographic is by Dr. Neal Barnard, one of America’s leading advocates for health, nutrition, and higher standards in research. I would add ‘sugar’ to the Brain Threats side as well!


Studies Supporting Healthy Lifestyle Habits for Lowering Risk

A number of studies indicate that maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active (brain training) as we age might lower the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

A recent study involving over 2,600 elderly people examined effective ways to prevent cognitive impairment and disability. The study found that focusing on the combination of basic lifestyle factors such as exercise, diet, vascular risk factors (smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) and brain training (methods to exercise memory and attention) could improve or maintain cognitive functioning in at-risk elderly people from the general population.


A small study by Dale Bredesen, MD-UCLA and colleagues were able to reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s patients with an intense program. The study included 10 volunteers between the ages of 55 and 75, all at various stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The program involved the volunteers maintaining optimal gastrointestinal health, strategic fasting in order to normalize insulin levels, maintaining desired levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream, and making use of DHA supplements in order to repair broken connections in the brain. After following this program for 3-6 months, 9 of the 10 volunteers reported that they had noticed their cognition to either return to normal levels or slightly improve. The only one to report no cognitive improvements was a 60-year-old female who was already in the late stages of dementia upon entering the program.

A Proactive Approach!

I believe in taking a Proactive Approach, incorporating the above measures into my daily life, to minimize my risk of diseases such as ad6Alzheimer’s. A HUGE BENEFIT of taking such actions is that all of the listed measures also reduce your risk of developing other major diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease AS WELL AS promote long-term health. The alternative: A Reactive Approach, waiting until a diagnosis is made and then working from that frame of reference…reacting to the present situation, which tends to be much less effective and successful.

Healthy Lifestyle Coaching is a great starting point to help you build proactive, healthy lifestyle measures into your daily routine. Contact me for details.

To Your Ever-Improving Health…

Sana Keller, PhD, RN, CNC      Healthy Lifestyle Coach & Cancer Survivor Coach

Health Unlimited LLC


Photo credits:,,,,,,

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