Being diagnosed with dementia is one of the few things in life that scares me to the bone.
My fear is a fairly irrational one.
At least if you base the data on my genetic history. At the same time, it’s something I cannot control, plus it’s currently without a cure.
To top it off, research is still limited.
Largely because actually we know so little about the brain and how it really works.
But also because we’ve not quite been willing to invest as much into research.
We’re currently spending most of our money on cancer research. (There’s a pretty good reason for that).
For most of us, dementia is an “old people disease”.
So progress on dementia, being “an old person’s disease” and not as deadly, seems to languish a little.
But, for the record, it’s actually not something that “only old people get”…
(The inspiration for this post? A long-form story in a Norwegian newspaper about a 54 year woman diagnosed a while ago. We can argue about whether 54 is “old” or not some other time!)
Demential also a very deadly disease.
Oh, about my fear of dementia…
Being worried about this diagnosis is probably not just my fear..?
Also most of us have – whether we know it or not – run into a person who has, or will get the diagnosis.
Unfortunately, this diagnosis can take a long time.
There is no blood test you can take (yet).
There’s no vaccine.
No way to predict that you’ll wind up with it.
Unfortunately, family history isn’t as clear cut as we all think it is.
And diagnosis is a multi-step process that takes time.
For a diagnosis, you have to express symptoms.
For that to happen, somebody has to suspect you are suffering from it.
As a result, prevention of dementia seems to be the focus.
If we don’t know how what triggers dementia, how can we actually prevent it?
Turns out that if you train regularly, you may be already be taking one of the actions to help your brain/body fight the progress of dementia.
In January/February of 2019, some media outlets reported that exercise slows the progress of Alzheimer’s disease.
This was, as is often the case, a gross oversimplification of the study and its current conclusion.
The – Too Long; Didn’t Read – TL;DR summary:
It’s possible an exercise-induced myokine release can slow down/oppose synapse failure and memory damage in the brain of mice modeling Alzheimer’s disease.
If the model is correct, they have discovered that a hormone they think your body releases during exercise can potentially affect – reduce – the speed of memory loss for Alzheimer’s disease patients.
If you’re curious about why they use rodents as models for human brains, the San Diego Union Tribute published an article on that very subject!
This is obviously a very important discovery.
It’s also one of those discoveries where it doesn’t hurt to “jump the gun”.
It’s simply exercise!
Physical exercise comes with a lot of known benefits.
This could be another one.
Daily releases of the FNDC5/irisin myokine – the hormone they think we release during/as the result of exercise – certainly won’t hurt your brain.
So hit the gym today for some brain and body friendly training. Cheers!!