Hopefully, by now, you know the risks associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Those over the age of 65 have a 1 in 10 chance of suffering symptoms and those over 85 have a 50% chance. 1 This post isn’t going to concentrate on preventing Alzheimer’s completely, we don’t understand enough about it yet. This post will focus on how you can prevent yourself from experiencing symptoms, even if you do contract the disease.
Studies have shown there is a discrepancy between neuropathological damage being caused by Alzheimer’s disease, and behavioral alterations that manifest as a result of that damage. For example, let’s pretend Patient A and Patient B contract Alzheimer’s at the exact same time. It is very possible that Patient A will be experiencing serious symptoms in one year while Patient B may go years before experiencing mild symptoms. The theory for this phenomenon is called “The Cognitive Reserve Theory”.
We Must Build Our Cognitive Reserves
A cognitive reserve describes the minds resilience to damage on a behavior basis. It doesn’t measure how much damage the brain sustains, rather, it measures how severe the behavioral changes as a result of that damage are. Having a greater number of neurons and synapses directly contributes to having a stronger cognitive reserve. 3 Building your cognitive reserve will keep your mind sharp even if you contract Alzheimer’s. You will still contract the disease, but your behavior won’t change, and you won’t lose your memories.
Nootropics Can Help
The first nootropic you should consider when trying to build your cognitive reserve is Lion’s Mane Mushroom. Lion’s Mane is a completely natural nootropic which increases levels of the protein neuron growth factor (NGF) in the hippocampus. The NGF protein causes your brain to produce neurons at a faster rate (neurogenesis), and helps protect new neurons. Read our article on Lion’s Mane Mushroom for more information.
The “Racetam” nootropics can also help build your cognitive reserve. Instead of improving neurogenesis, nootropics like Piracetam and Aniracetam improve synaptic plasticity. Synaptic plasticity refers to your brain’s ability to form, destroy, strengthen, and weaken synaptic connections. However, this means “Racetam” nootropics won’t help on their own. They merely open your brain to positive change. In order to make your brain change for the better, you need to engage in mentally taking activities. Taking Piracetam and watching TV all day might help you remember the characters, but it won’t help build your cognitive reserve. Read more about the most common “Racetam” nootropic, Piracetam.
There Are Other Ways To Build Your Cognitive Reserve
Besides nootropics, both mental and aerobic exercise can strengthen your cognitive reserve. Challenging mental exercise may build new synaptic connections. Aerobic exercise stimulates the protein brain-derived nootropic factor (BDNF). 4 BDNF is similar to NGF and will help you produce neurons faster.
Taking steps to improve your cognitive reserve is good for your mental health, all your cognitive functions, and will keep you sharp as you age. You don’t want to spend your last days not knowing who your family is, who you are, or what is going on in your head.
1. Alzheimer’s Statistics: http://www.wellingtonparc.com/FAQ_Alzheimers_Disease.pdf
2. Katzman R, Terry R, DeTeresa R, Brown T, Davies P, Fuld P, Renbing X, Peck A (1988). Clinical, pathological, and neurochemical changes in dementia: a subgroup with preserved mental status and numerous neocortical plaques. Annals of Neurology. 23(2):138-44.
3. Bigio EH, Hynan LS, Sontag E, Satumtira S, White CL (2002). Synapse loss is greater in presenile than senile onset Alzheimer disease: implications for the cognitive reserve hypothesis. Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology. 28(3):218-27