Researchers set out to understand if there is any link to autoimmune disorders and eventual increased risk for dementia. With an estimated number of approximately 5-million Americans having dementia, it’s no wonder scientists are scrambling for causes, preventions, and cures. One recent study sheds light on some valuable connections regarding possible pre-cursors to the future onset of dementia.
Linking Increased Risks
The findings from a study on autoimmune diseases and dementia were published March 2017 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Data was collected from almost 2 million adults who had been hospitalized, at least once, for an autoimmune disease. The analysis revealed that the risk of subsequent dementia was indeed increased.
Specifically, the risk was more elevated for those who suffered from lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. The study, based on medical data, cannot claim a definitive cause-and-effect element between autoimmune disorders and dementia. However, as described, there is an association between those with an autoimmune status and having a future increased risk of a vascular dementia diagnosis. Additionally, this information may assist health practitioners in realizing an individual’s possible coexistence of the two disorders.
What is the Common Link?
Both autoimmune disorders and dementia (including Alzheimer’s) have, to date, shown biomarkers for inflammation. Many factors contribute to inflammation in the body and the brain. An inflammatory response can be triggered by: diet, toxins, bacteria, viruses, stress, just to name a few catalysts.
Inflammation occurs when our body “naturally” aims to curb any perceived threat to our immune system. Current research reveals that a large number of inflammation markers exist in those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In fact, the same exists for those with autoimmune disorders. Both inflammation and abnormal immune activity are significant in degenerative brain diseases.
How to Keep Inflammation at a Minimum
Our body’s immune system is geared to respond to protect itself. So, when something intrudes, it will attack. The challenge for today’s good health is that we have many intruders, some of which we don’t see coming, (or have the ability to curtail.) Some on this list are air and water pollution, pesticides, mold, and viruses.
Other inflammatory triggers, conversely, can be avoided or minimized. These would include: stress, poor diet, food allergies, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and lack of nature. We do have some ability to make adjustments or lifestyle changes that may help ensure keeping inflammation levels low.
What’s on the Good List?
It may feel or sound repetitive, but it’s no coincidence that the same checklists of beneficial practices appear on most good-health lists. Here they are again as a reminder:
– Eat a nutritious and balanced diet. Whole foods, nuts, vegetables, fruits, beans, and seeds are most beneficial. Buy organic when possible, or grow them yourself. Fish is fantastic for the omegas we need. Lean protein, like turkey or chicken are fine, free-range. Cage-free and/or organic eggs are healthy. Indulge in good fats such as avocados, coconut oil, flaxseed, etc.
AVOID: processed foods, especially meats; sugar (corn syrup, fructose, and all “diet” chemical sugar substitutes.) You may have wheat or gluten sensitivity, which can cause inflammation as well. Alcohol is best in moderation.
– Sleep well, every night, whenever possible. Do you know that the brain actually “cleans itself” when we sleep? Brain waves from sleep trigger a cleaning flow. The glymphatic system is a brain “washing” system that helps reduce inflammation from toxins and other hormonal imbalances.
–Exercise daily, sometimes more aerobically. After exercise, it’s been proven that neuroplasticity is increased for hours. The brain becomes stimulated and synapses and neurons go wild. Besides the brain gain, inflammation may be reduced from the stress-relief that exercise provides.
–Play brain games. Have challenging, thought-provoking conversations. Read interesting non-fiction. Do crossword puzzles, jumbles, and sudoku. Make your mind work.
If these areas of health are important to you, it may be worth continuing your research and best-health practices. You may always refer to GetThrive for current reader-friendly health information for you and your loved ones.
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, March 2017