Good News If You’re Worried About Alzheimer’s

March 20, 2014

Senior MemoriesFor decades, we haven’t really known the cause, mechanism, or triggers of Alzheimer’s—sure, we have a handful of almost obvious correlations: not exercising, not using your brain, not eating well are all things more likely to be done by people who later develop Alzheimer’s. But with Baby Boomers about to hit old age, money is pouring into Alzheimer’s research, and in the last year alone, several big discoveries have been made.

The latest is that there’s a specific protein—REST—that protects the brain from damage, including the plaque build up that is found in Alzheimer’s patients. For an as yet unknown reason, this protein isn’t produced in people who develop Alzheimer’s, causing their brain to age far differently than those protected by REST.

Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as proactively shooting your brain up with REST. Scientists still have to verify its role (eventually requiring expensive human testing), try to figure out what stops it from getting released, and how to use medicine to get the body to produce it.

Fortunately, we have a head start—we already know a lot about REST because it has a role in other diseases, including colon cancer, Huntington’s, and some seizures. We know that lithium stimulates its production, so we have that as a basis to produce more, better medicine.

While you wait for science to figure it out, take action with reasonable assumptions: encourage your body (and mind) to work right by supplying the full range of nutrients it needs on a daily basis. Stimulate it with exercise. And support your immune system against pathogens that might interfere with how your body functions.

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