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When we think about Alzheimer’s, most of us think of things like forgetting where we put our keys or what we wrote on the grocery list, missing bill payments or leaving the stove or the oven on when we leave the house.
And, then there’s the memory loss that involves our own past and even the names of our kids or spouse.
But, what if I told you that memory loss is not the first sign of Alzheimer’s? And that once memory loss is present the damage is already done?
In fact, researchers at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF), working with the Brazilian Biobank for Aging Studies at the University of São Paulo have discovered that there are five early warning signs that you could be developing Alzheimer’s that have nothing at all to do with memory loss.
Early warning, better outcomes
Science has been working to find ways to diagnose Alzheimer’s earlier and more accurately for years. That’s because the earlier someone with dementia is diagnosed, the sooner they have access to therapies that can improve their cognitive function and with it their quality of life.
Yet, early diagnosis has remained a challenge since there’s still not a definitive test for the disease and diagnosis generally begins by eliminating all other possibilities.
That’s why Dr. Lea T. Grinberg and her team at UCSF set out to discover if there were signs doctors could use to point them toward a diagnosis prior to memory loss becoming severe.
The scientists autopsied the brain tissue of 1,092 adults who died in São Paulo over the period of a decade. Of those brain samples, only 455 of the deaths were possibly related to Alzheimer’s.
The researchers then assessed the neurodegeneration in the brains associated with the disease such as tau tangles and beta-amyloid plaques and performed a psychiatric inventory of the patients’ medical record history.
Here’s what they found…
Symptoms associated with early Alzheimer’s include:
- Sleep Disruption
- Appetite Changes
As Alzheimer’s progresses, the chance of agitation continues to increase. Then, eventually, there are changes in cognitive ability and memory issues.
According to Dr. Grinberg, “It suggests these people with neuropsychiatric symptoms are not at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease — they already have it.”
Take action to save your brain
So, if you’re experiencing any of the five neuropsychiatric symptoms that are now a known harbinger of Alzheimer’s, the time to consult your doctor is now, before any possible future memory loss sets in.
It’s also vital to do everything you can to protect and preserve your brain health.
Steps to take include:
- Exercise – Physical activity can not only reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, but it can also slow your cognitive deterioration even if you already have the disease. Shoot for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week.
- Cut out the bad stuff – Sugars and trans fats can damage your brain by creating inflammation and increasing free radicals. Instead choose a healthy eating plan like the Mediterranean diet with a focus on fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil.
- Take fish oil and vitamin D – A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease found that omega 3 supplements along with vitamin D may help to clear out the beta-amyloid plaques and decrease brain inflammation associated with the disease. For vitamin D, choose a D3 supplement along with MK7 (a form of vitamin K2) to increase absorption. And, for the highest quality omega 3’s, I recommend Peak Krill Oil™.
- Get your rest – Studies have shown a link between lack of sleep or poor quality sleep and higher levels of beta-amyloid plaque so be sure to get eight hours each night.
Alzheimer’s doesn’t start with memory loss but with much more subtle signs that can be easily missed or mistaken for another condition. Know the five symptoms that give you an early warning, talk to your doctor if you experience them and use the tips above to preserve your brain health and protect your memories.
- Alzheimer’s: These psychiatric symptoms may be an early sign — Medical News Today
- World Alzheimer Report 2011 — Alzheimer’s Disease International
- Why is it difficult to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease early? — sharecare.com
- Vitamin D, omega-3 may help clear amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s — UCLA