Early Adult and Mid-Life Cholesterol and Glucose Levels Predict Alzheimer’s disease Later in Life (Framingham study 2022)
Source: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Journal (March 2022)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (May 24, 2022)
A study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, in March of 2022, has shown that unhealthy blood cholesterol and blood glucose (sugar) levels in early and mid-adulthood are associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in later life. The study was an extension of the famous Framingham heart study, following 4,932 individuals, which has been studying participants over many years and decades. This arm of the study showed that a 15 mg/dL increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – the good cholesterol, measured during early and middle adulthood was associated with a decreased Alzheimer’s disease risk later in life.
As well, a 15 mg/dL increase in glucose (blood sugar) measured during middle adulthood was associated with a 14.5% increased Alzheimer’s disease risk later in life. The study also factored in age, sex, blood pressure, body mass index, smoking history, and educational status. The researchers concluded the following, “Our findings suggest that careful management of cholesterol and glucose beginning in early adulthood can lower Alzheimer’s disease risk.” In their opening comments, they state that Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth leading cause of death among Americans 65 years of age or older.
To date, there are no proven effective disease-modifying therapies to prevent or slow cognitive decline from Alzheimer’s disease. Early identification and treatment of individuals at risk for the common form of Alzheimer’s disease occurring after age 65 have been recognized as an important contributor to reductions in Alzheimer’s disease mortality and delaying the symptoms of the disease. So, in this study, we learned that keeping your glucose and HDL levels in the desirable range are two important ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease as you age. Really good targets to shoot for throughout all LMU adult life include:
- Fasting Glucose level – under 90 mg/dl (5.0 mmol/L)
- Fasting HDL – above 60 mg/dl (1.6 mmol/L)
Some other lifestyle strategies that are shown to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Keeping your total blood cholesterol in the ideal range
- Participate in regular aerobic exercise
- Achieve and maintain an ideal body weight
- Get adequate intake of omega-3 fats (including from supplements)
- Avoid or limit alcohol intake
- Keep your brain active, learning new things or new skills on an ongoing basis
- Avoid head injuries
- Keep your blood pressure in the ideal range
- Drink green tea daily
- Maintain optimal vitamin D blood levels (above 75 nmol/L or 30 ng/ml)
- After the age of 40 or 45 consider taking a supplement containing melatonin one hour before bedtime
- After age 55, I suggest taking a supplement that contains CDP-choline, Huperzine A, Bacopa monnieri and Phosphatidylserine to help maintain brain levels of the memory chemical (neurotransmitter), acetylcholine.
According to published studies, preventing Alzheimer’s disease to the greatest degree possible involves paying attention to a number of dietary and lifestyle factors throughout all of adult life, as I have outlined here. The good news is that these factors are largely under your control and so you should feel empowered knowing that your personal wellness choices from day to day can have a significant impact on lowering your risk as the years tick away. I have included the reference for the 2022 study in the text below, as well as references that support the other Alzheimer’s prevention strategies, I mentioned in this video update.
Zhang X et al. Midlife lipid and glucose levels are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia Journal. March 23, 2022. https://alz-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/alz.12641
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Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.