Having A Healthy Immune System May Help Control Alzheimer's Disease
New studies have shown a link between a defect in the immune system and Alzheimer's disease. While there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, there are a few drugs known to ease its symptoms. The focus is on slowing the onset and progression of Alzheimer's and possibly preventing it altogether. Delaying the onset of Alzheimer's can dramatically increase quality of life.
What is Alzheimer's Disease?
When a person has Alzheimer's, their brain cells slowly die, deteriorating brain function and causing problems with memory, judgment and thinking. Common symptoms include disorientation, trouble doing simple tasks, change in behavior and judgment, problems communicating, lack of motivation and abnormal sleep patterns. Alzheimer's patients can live up to twenty years with the disease, although at some point so many brain cells die that the patient can die from loss of brain function. It's estimated that 4.5 million American's have Alzheimer's disease, and that number is expected to triple in the next forty years.
What is the Immune System?
The immune system is the body's defense system. Its job is to determine the difference between the body's own cells and foreign cells, or antigens. Antigens include bacteria, viruses, fungus and other foreign tissues. The immune system recognizes and eliminates these cells. White blood cells make up the intelligence network that organizes the immune response. The immune system resides in different places in the body. Think about when you get sick; usually your lymph nodes in your throat swell up or your tonsils might be sore. The immune system lives in these areas, as well as the skin, adenoids, appendix, spleen, intestines and bone marrow. There are different types of white cells, including T cells, B cells, macrophage and mast cells.
Alzheimer's Disease and the Immune System
New studies have shown that there is a link between Alzheimer" and the immune system. Cells in the immune system called macrophages work in the brain to reduce aging by removing waste. Some study participants had a defect in their immune system that made it harder to for the macrophages to clear the waste, leaving the brain crowded with plaque, called amyloid-beta, which causes Alzheimer's. More studies need to be done, but this link is certainly interesting. The more we can find out about possible causes of Alzheimer's, the sooner scientists and doctors can work to prevent it.
Keep Your Immune System Healthy
The easiest and most effective way to prevent Alzheimer's disease, and virtually any other disease, is to stay healthy. A healthy lifestyle has shown over and over to have more health benefits than there is room to list here. Keep your immune system healthy by getting regular exercise, eating a well rounded diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and limiting alcohol and tobacco consumption. Be sure to get plenty of sleep and try to avoid or reduce stress levels. All of this together can work wonders for your body and mind.