Preventing Alzheimer's Disease

More than four million people live with Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S., and  that number is expected to double by 2030.  Tommy Lasorda is trying to help cut that number.

There is no cure... But there are ways to protect yourself, Dr. Bruce reported on the Anti-Alzheimer’s prescription.

Tommy Lasorda of the Los Angeles Dodgers has a lot of things to keep track of.

“I make a lot of speeches, when you're 81 yrs old, it's tough for you to get up there and make speeches, recall it,” Lasorda said.

That's why he turns to Dr. Vincent Fortanasce, Clinical Professor of Neurology at USC,  for tips on keeping his memory sharp.

“Before the first slip of the tongue, the first signs of alzheimer’s disease even begin, the pathological process in the brain has begun up to 30 years before,”  Fortanasce said, “The only treatment that's available is prevention.”

Fortanasce believes it's never too early to start trying to prevent Alzheimer's disease, or too late.

One of his clients, Marshall Welles, is 101.

Both Lasorda and Welles follow Fortanasce's Anti-Alzheimer's prescription... Which has four components:  diet, exercise for the body and the brain, along with rest and relaxation.  

First, diet: Dr. Fortanasce believes we should cut down on carbs.

“Now we know that carbohydrates or sugar are to the brain as cigarettes are to the lung,”  Fortanasce said, “it's not that you can't have bread, but you need protein or fat first.”

Second, Fortanasce recommends weightlifting, or simple isometric exercises.

“Brawn actually builds brain and can actually increase the number of cells, brain cells, and its connections,”

Third: neurobics, trying new things.

“It doesn't take complicated games, it just takes novelty. For instance, instead of eating with your left hand, eat with your left hand from time to time,” Fortanasce said.

Fourth: relaxation.  Learning to deal with stress. 

“The primary way to relax is through meditation.  That can be through a mantra, can be saying certain rote prayers. and what it does it builds up something in the brain called alpha waves.”

Fortansce believes that doing these things may make a difference.

While more research is done, Lasorda believes Fortanase's prescription has made a difference for him.

“I feel like i'm 40, i react like i'm 40, and that's the way it is with me,” Lasorda said.

“There's no proof that these steps will prevent Alzheimers but there is proof they can keep the memory and concentration sharp while protecting your heart,” Dr. Hensel said.

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