Many people think of Alzheimer’s disease as an elderly person’s problem.
And that may be driving them to make questionable health choices in their younger years, figuring they’ll have plenty of time to clean up their act when they’re older and it matters more.
But recent research suggests this attitude may be extremely unwise for your long-term brain health and your risk for Alzheimer’s…
High cholesterol at 35 can lead to Alzheimer’s
But although previous studies have found a connection between high LDL and Alzheimer’s risk, the link between HDL levels (the good cholesterol) and Alzheimer’s was inconclusive. This could be because most research examining these relationships involved people who were 55 years and older.
That’s where recent research at Boston University differs. They measured correlations of Alzheimer’s with multiple known risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes at exams and during three adult age periods: early (ages 35-50), middle (ages 51-60) and late (ages 61-70). The risk factors included HDL, LDL (or “bad” cholesterol), triglycerides, glucose, blood pressure, smoking and body mass index (BMI).
And they found a link between lower levels of HDL and high triglyceride levels — measured in blood as early as age 35 — and a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s disease several decades later.
In addition, high blood glucose measured between the ages of 51 and 60 was associated with future risk of Alzheimer’s.
“While our findings confirm other studies that linked cholesterol and glucose levels measured in blood with future risk of Alzheimer’s disease, we have shown for the first time that these associations extend much earlier in life than previously thought,” says senior author Dr. Lindsay A. Farrer, chief of biomedical genetics at Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health.
For their study, the Boston University researchers used data from participants in the Framingham Heart Study. These individuals were examined in four-year intervals throughout most of their adult lives.
Results showed lower HDL in early and middle adulthood can predict Alzheimer’s. High blood glucose levels — a precursor of diabetes — during mid-adulthood are also predictive of Alzheimer’s.
Farrer points out the researchers were able to link Alzheimer’s to risk factors for heart disease and diabetes measured much earlier in life than possible in most other cognitive decline and dementia studies.
“Intervention targeting cholesterol and glucose management starting in early adulthood can help maximize cognitive health in later life,” Farrer says.
Start managing cholesterol, blood sugar early
Clearly, it’s important to start to manage your cholesterol and blood sugar as early as possible in adulthood. We have a few recommendations that center around the beneficial nutrition of oily fish…
- Reduce the insulin resistance that can lead to diabetes
- Increase “good” cholesterol (HDL)
- Reduce levels of triglycerides
- Increase levels of hormones that accelerate the breakdown of glucose
- And lower blood pressure
What one fish could do all that? Sardines!
If you’re not a fan of sardines or fish in general, you could add a good omega-3 supplement to your daily regimen. There are plenty to choose from, including omega-3 supplements made with krill oil, which may have several advantages over other marine oil supplements, including better absorption for fewer fish burps.
Another krill oil advantage is a unique combination of omega-3 fatty acids, phospholipids and extremely potent antioxidants. This combination provides a host of health benefits such as helping to manage cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Also, studies show krill oil outperforms fish oil supplements when it comes to lowering LDL cholesterol levels. Patients who took 1 to 1.5 grams of krill oil a day demonstrated a significantly greater decrease in bad cholesterol than patients who took three times the amount of fish oil.
And lastly, krill oil contains astaxanthin, an antioxidant that’s 100 times more potent than vitamin E and can help fight the damage free radicals can do to your brain and nervous system.
The bottom line: It’s not too early to start taking care of your brain for the years to come.
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Lipid, Glucose Levels at Age 35 Associated with Alzheimers Disease — Boston University School of Medicine
Midlife lipid and glucose levels are associated with Alzheimer’s disease — Alzheimer’s & Dementia
A Look at Krill Oil’s Benefits — Cleveland Clinic