Want armor against Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Is there such a thing?
Two of the most common and devastating diseases that you are almost guaranteed to have impact your life. If you’re fortunate enough to not have either, it’s almost certain someone you love will.
Now I know that most people think it won’t happen to them. That’s just something that other people go through. And that’s a common thought. It’s easy to think that your current situation is more stable than it truly is. But let’s say you accept the fact that it’s very likely you will be touched by either of these illnesses. What now?
Notice I didn’t say medication. We currently do not have a cure for Alzheimer’s and our treatments for heart disease are very reactive and if it is far enough along, can involve risky surgery.
Let’s start with Alzheimer’s. Without getting too deep, one of the things that scientists believe contributes to the disease is the buildup of a protein called amyloid beta. That buildup can take upwards of ten to twenty years before symptoms begin to show and become problematic. This slow buildup can be the reason why it is often so late into the disease that people notice the symptoms and seek help.
So how do we prevent the buildup of this protein? One way is sleep. Low wave, deep sleep. While you are sleeping, your brain is clearing out the waste that accumulates while you are awake. One of those things it’s cleansing away is amyloid beta.
A second cause of Alzheimer’s is the degradation of synapses. The average brain has approximately one hundred trillion of these synapses where neurons communicate. The way we create new synapses is by learning new things. So the top of the CrossFit pyramid that says to regularly learn and play new sports can help stimulate your brain to create more pathways. The more synapses you have, the better defense against Alzheimer’s. You can think of it like a traffic jam. If you have more side streets, one road closure won’t make much of a difference.
A third way to combat this disease is improved cardiovascular health. What’s good for you heart is typically good for your brain and vice versa.
Exposing your body to regular exercise, specifically workouts performed at relative high intensity (CrossFit) create an atmosphere in your body where you are lacking oxygen. This low oxygen atmosphere helps your body create new capillaries and arterioles (angiogenesis). This has the same effect as the increased synapses in your brain. You are creating more side streets for blood flow. So even though this doesn’t prevent disease processes from occurring, it could be the reason that fit individuals experience heart disease less frequently than sedentary individuals.
What does all this mean? That a routine that includes a heart healthy diet of whole foods combined with regular exercise, quality sleep and mental stimulation could be the armor that your body needs to stave off these diseases for as long as possible.
This will help you to not experience them personally as well as reduce the burden on loved ones that would be your care takers. Take small first steps, but please take those steps.