Dementia is an umbrella term for more than 100 conditions related to brain damage. The most common type in the UK is Alzheimer’s disease, which is usually signalled by memory loss. “For example, this could be forgetting about recent conversations or events, and forgetting the names of places and objects,” explains the NHS.
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As the condition progresses, memory loss becomes more severe and is accompanied by a number of other disruptive symptoms, such as personality changes and hallucinations, the health body notes.
Unfortunately, there is currently no way to halt this harmful process.
This is the ultimate goal of research but in the meantime, it has made some important discoveries.
Unhealthy lifestyle factors have been shown to have an adverse effect on the brain, thereby heightening the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
This finding has profound implications because it suggests there are measures that can be taken to reduce the risk.
What to avoid
According to Dr Deborah Lee of Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, the link between high cholesterol and dementia is hard to ignore.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood that can be harmful if you have too much of it.
It is naturally found in foods high in saturated fat.
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As Dr Lee reported, there are several mechanisms that may help to explain the link between high cholesterol and Alzheimer’s risk.
“Cholesterol is present in the core of the neural plaques, which characterise Alzheimer’s Disease,” she said.
She continued: “The presence of a specific gene mutation, the APOE-4 gene, which regulates cholesterol transport, doubles the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.”
Animal studies help to explain the link too.
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For example, after 12 weeks, mice fed a diet high in either saturated fats, or trans fats, developed a respective 30 percent, and seven percent disturbance of the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB), and widespread inflammation with the brain and brain vascular tissue.
Why is this relevant?
According to the National Institute of Ageing (NIH), in a person with Alzheimer’s, a faulty blood-brain barrier prevents glucose from reaching the brain and prevents the clearing away of toxic beta-amyloid and tau proteins.
“This results in inflammation, which adds to vascular problems in the brain,” explains the NIH.
According to Dr Lee, high levels of cholesterol in midlife has been shown to increase the long term risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
A review in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease examined data from 34 studies and concluded high total cholesterol in mid-life increased the risk of later-life Alzheimer’s Disease.
The authors suggest that Alzheimer’s Disease is the result of the accumulation of characteristic brain pathology over a long period of time.
“The recognition that raised cholesterol levels in mid-life are important gives a window of opportunity for Alzheimer’s Disease prevention,” noted Dr Lee.
To prevent cholesterol buildup, try to eat less of the following:
- Meat pies, sausages and fatty meat
- Butter, lard and ghee
- Cream and hard cheese, like cheddar
- Cakes and biscuits
- Food that contains coconut oil or palm oil
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