Another study shows stress hormones likely increase Alzheimer’s risk
If we’re alive, we are coping with a significant amount of stress. Yet stress hormones have been shown to have a negative effect on our health.
Now, the recent article, "Stress may increase risk for Alzheimer’s disease: Stress hormones lead to Alzheimer-like protein modifications,” brings to light epidemiological studies by scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in which the scientists hypothesized that adverse life events, which generally cause stress, may be one trigger for Alzheimer’s disease.
The article states that, “Fewer than ten percent of Alzheimer cases have a genetic basis. The factors that contribute to the rest of the cases are largely unknown. Following up on epidemiological studies, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry hypothesized that adverse life events (stress) may be one trigger of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Stress in Middle Age Can Double Alzheimer's Risk also refers to studies that point to stress as a risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry were moving forward with studies based on information gained through time.
They were quoted as saying: “These results complement previous demonstrations by the scientists that stress leads to the formation of beta-amyloid, another protein implicated in Alzheimer’s disease…Our findings show that stress hormones and stress can cause changes in the tau protein like those that arise in Alzheimer’s disease”, explains Osborne Almeida from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry.”
How stressed are we?
You can take a stress quiz if you’d like to test your stress level. We often don’t consciously realize how stressed we are, but our tight muscles, knotted stomachs, hunched shoulders and furrowed brows are a clue. Getting rid of stress is good. How do we do this if we are caregivers?
Lowering stress levels
Sharing our stress through talking or writing about it helps many of lighten the load. People who have been in our shoes in some way, such as other caregivers if we are caregivers ourselves, are often our best resource for two-way sharing.
We can also:
Meditate by sitting quietly and concentrating on our breathing
Pray if we feel close to a higher power
Take a walk out in a natural setting
Exercise in other ways, such as bicycling, to get our heart rates up
Use music to relax or to exercise
The idea is to use our minds and bodies in ways that subdue our stressors, or at least lighten our load such as we can when we write and talk about our problems. The two approaches, used together, are often the most effective. Writing and talking to others can take the form of paid counseling, trusted friends or interactive websites such as ouralzheimers.com.
Eating right can help the body cope with stress
Diets rich in antioxidants can help our bodies cope with stress. Some studies have shown that fish oils rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and fruits and other foods rich in antioxidants, may reduce our risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
There’s a long way to go before these approaches are proven as Alzheimer’s avoiding techniques, however it’s fairly well known medically that diets rich in antioxidants and fish oils are good for the heart. It’s also generally thought that what is good for the heart is good for the brain. So how can we lose if we alter our diets for general good health? If this approach helps us avoid stress as a trigger for Alzheimer’s disease because we get rid of toxins formed during stress, we’re that much farther ahead.
These scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry found more evidence pointing to stress as one culprit in the Alzheimer’s puzzle. If we follow their theory through by trying to both reduce stress levels, and treating our bodies well through diet and exercise, we really can’t lose.