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Stress and Alzheimer's Disease

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Stress and Alzheimer's Disease

Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa M.D. is the president of the Alzheimer's Prevention Foundation, which is a non-profit organization studying the integrated medical approach to the prevention and reversal of memory loss. He has a very different approach to the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's Disease. He is a strong believer in meditation, diet, and exercise coupled with conventional treatments.

We all know some one with Alzheimer's Disease, whether it's a friend or family member. Its hard not to. Currently half of all nursing home residents suffer from Alzheimer's Disease. The number of Alzheimer's patients is predicted to surge from 4.5 million to 16 million. Current healthcare cost for the 4.5million patients is approximately $100 billion a year. The United States leads all countries in number of Alzheimer's patients. Why?

As we all know, stress is a killer. Literally. We have long know that stress leads to high blood pressure and heart attacks, but as we learn more about ourselves it has been discovered that stress also kills brain cells. That nasty little stress hormone called Cortisol that we hear so much about in diet commercials is not some made up term to sell diet pills. When a person is stressed their adrenal glands produce Cortisol to help them cope with the stressful situation and then the Cortisol is metabolized producing little negative side effects. However, in our lives we are chronically stress and the levels of Cortisol in our bodies are extremely high. It is these prolonged elevated levels that harm our bodies and minds. The stress induced production of Cortisol has shown that it can interfere with neurotransmitters, inhibit the utilization of glucose by cells of the hippocampus, and injure/kill neurons releasing free radicals to attack other cells. All this leads to memory loss and decreased function of the hippocampus. People who have chronic stress that leads to the shrinking of the hippocampus (hippocampus atrophy) are strongly associated with Mild Cognitive Impairment, of which about 80% will develop Alzheimer's Disease.

As a U.S. citizen you are four times as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than someone who lives in an Asian country. Part of that reason is the differences in which each culture deal with stress. Most people of Asian and Indian cultures tend to meditate



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