While science has yet to conclusively determine what causes Alzheimer’s disease or best practices for Alzheimer’s disease prevention, recent research suggests the causes might actually be traced all the way down to the liver. How you handle the health of your liver now could impact your own Alzheimer's disease prevention. Here's how.
New Findings in Alzheimer's Research
At this year’s Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, researchers led by Dr. Mitchel A. Kling, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, presented research that showed the risk for Alzheimer’s disease is associated with reduced levels of plasmalogens, a type of phospholipid produced in the liver that aids in maintaining the health of brain cells. Plasmalogens are carried from the liver to the brain through the blood.
Through collaboration with colleagues from the Alzheimer’s Disease Metabolomics Consortium at Duke University, Dr. Kling devised methods to measure these phospholipids and found that, as the body ages, the liver produces fewer plasmalogens. Further research showed that lower levels of plasmalogens corresponded to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and/or cognitive impairment. The scientists also noted that decreased production of certain plasmalogens were linked to increased levels of the tau protein, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
What Does This Mean for You?
This makes liver health and maintaining liver health a vital component of Alzheimer’s disease prevention, and that’s where alcohol consumption comes into play. Research shows heavy drinking is a risk factor for liver disease such as cirrhosis and other cancers. More recent research has stated that even moderate drinking of alcohol can have a negative impact on liver function. That’s even more true for an aging liver, which can’t metabolize alcohol as quickly. So, it stays in your system longer. Even one drink a day impacts your liver, which in turn impacts Alzheimer’s disease prevention.
Cutting Back Alcohol Consumption to Improve Alzheimer's Disease Prevention
Here are five tips for cutting back on your consumption of alcohol and improving Alzheimer’s disease prevention.
- Don’t drink in front of the TV. When you’re not paying attention, you’re likely to consume more.
- Switch to drinks with less alcohol content. Instead of mixing yourself a gin and tonic, try a nice, mild wheat beer.
- Quality over quantity. Treat your drink as you would dessert. Choose quality, well-crafted drinks from reputable purveyors. And, limit it to one.
- Drink water. Alcohol is a diuretic and makes you dehydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water while consuming alcohol.
- Take days off. You’ll savor the nights you do indulge that much more. And, feel better for it. Your liver will thank you.
There are, of course, other steps you can take to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. But maintaining a strong, healthy liver by dialing back alcohol consumption is a great start.
If you or someone you know has a loved one suffering with Alzheimer’s disease or another neurological disorder, BrightStar Care® of Fort Collins/Loveland is here to assist you. Our goal is to help you overcome the physical and emotional challenges you face in meeting your loved one’s unique needs. Contact us today.