In his new book, a prominent neurologist claims that “aging is not inevitable” as he outlines steps you can take to compensate for disease as you age. Dr. Robert Friedland, a neurologist at the University of Louisville Medical School in Kentucky told Express.co.uk that a simple change in diet may be enough to prevent the growth of dangerous gut bacteria that his research has linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Excessive inflammation in the brain, caused by certain bacteria in the gut, is one of the many causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Friedland explained that a high-fiber diet can replace these bacteria with anti-inflammatory ones.
He said, “Everyone has bacteria in their gut. They cannot live without them. It is not a question of how many bacteria there are but what kind of bacteria there are. The nature of the bacterial community that is present is largely related to diet.”
“A high-fiber diet heavily based on plants results in a bacterial community in the gut which helps reduce excessive inflammation in the body, including the brain.
“A diet high in saturated fats, and low in fiber, leads to an overpopulation of bacteria in the gut which promotes inflammation.”
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In 2015, he discovered that gut bacteria that carry a protein called amyloid on their surface can “mistake” the proteins in the brain, causing Alzheimer’s disease.
He and other scientists have found that the new form of brain proteins – known as plaques – mark them for attack by the body’s immune system as part of the inflammatory process.
Friedland explained that plaque buildup and “excessive inflammation” “have a role in damaging neurons called neurons to lead to cognitive impairment.”
Prior to Friedland’s work, researchers knew the destructive role of amyloid proteins. But he was the first to know that gut bacteria are the source of the problem.
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Other factors that can cause disease and how to prevent it
In his new book, Unaging: The Four Factors That Impact How You Age, Friedland explores factors other than your gut bacteria that can shorten your life.
Based on his years of working with clients, he explains that there are four “back-up factors” that must be protected to ensure longevity.
In addition to protecting yourself physically, which is one factor, he recommends in his book protecting your “cognitive, psychological, and social” life.
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He said: “Psychological precaution is the ability to maintain healthy mental function and to avoid agitation, anxiety, depression and other unhealthy mental states with age.
“People who are more emotionally stable and have more flexibility and conscientiousness have a greater resistance to cognitive impairment.”
He added, “Social reserve describes personal networks, support systems, and the ability to connect with others and society. People who are lonely are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
He explains that education and the intensity of cognitive tasks are also essential to living mentally healthy into old age. He grouped these factors together as a “knowledge reserve”.
Other risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease
Having diseases that affect your heart or blood vessels also make you more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Quitting smoking, reducing the amount you eat and exercising for at least 150 minutes a week can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the NHS.
The NHS also recommends:
Eat a healthy, balanced diet, including at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day
If you have diabetes, be sure to follow the diet and take medication.
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