Neurodegenerative disorder sounds like a scary term, and rightfully so. Most people know that “neuro” relates to the brain, so any time the word disorder is associated with the brain, that’s scary. For the longest time, science had no answers for how to treat or to prevent neurodegenerative disorders, but thankfully that is not entirely the case these days.
In this article, we will define what a neurodegenerative disorder is and list some of the most common ones. Once we know what they are, we will identify some common symptoms to pay attention to. After that, we will talk about possible strategies to prevent them.
What Is a Neurodegenerative Disorder?
Neurodegenerative disorder refers to any degenerative changes in the brain that affect its various parts or neurons. Some common diagnoses in this category are Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, Huntington’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis. Although these are all grouped, they can produce different symptoms based on which parts of the brain are affected.
How Common Are Neurodegenerative Disorders?
Unfortunately, they are much more common than we’d like. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 6.5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s. It currently affects about 1 out of every 9 people age 65 and older. The percentages become worse with age, as more than 33% of adults 85 years and older have Alzheimer’s.
According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, nearly 1,000,000 people in the United States live with Parkinson’s disease. Around the world, the number is more than 10 million. Approximately 96% of people with Parkinson’s disease are diagnosed after turning 50.
What Are Some Symptoms of Neurodegenerative Disorders?
Because different symptoms can occur depending on which parts of the brain are affected by the disorder, this is not a comprehensive list. However, some common symptoms to keep an eye out for are:
· Impaired mental function or memory loss. An example might include repeating questions multiple times or forgetting recently learned information.
· Confusion with time and place. Be aware if a person often loses track of dates or forgets how they got somewhere.
· Speech changes or trouble with vocabulary. If someone frequently repeats themselves or struggles to name everyday objects, they may need to be examined for possible neurodegenerative disorders.
· Loss of muscle control. Rigid muscles or tremors can both be potential signs of neurodegenerative disease. Sometimes this can appear as though someone is having trouble walking because of excessive stiffness.
· Changes in social interaction. Certain neurodegenerative diseases can cause changes in mood and personality. Common symptoms can include anxiety, depression, apathy, or social withdrawal.
· Insomnia. This might include difficulty falling asleep at night, but it can also involve having dreams where yelling or acting out disturbs standard sleep patterns.
Can You Prevent Neurodegenerative Disorders?
As more research is conducted on the brain and how these disorders progress, we learn more about possible prevention strategies.
Berberine’s benefits are far-reaching. A healthy diet and exercise program can support healthy cholesterol and weight management. Berberine also benefits the brain by helping reduce some of the things believed to cause various neurodegenerative diseases. Berberine benefits heart health and can support healthy blood sugar levels, too.
DHA is an Omega-3 acid that makes up more than 4% of the brain. It can play a role in preventing neurodegenerative disorders.
Outside of supplements, a person can seek to add vital nutrients and fats to their system through a healthier diet. Mediterranean diets are most frequently mentioned regarding brain health because they feature a lot of fish, vegetables, and nuts. Specifically, a Mediterranean diet provides fats and proteins that support good brain health. Another option is the keto diet because it contains a lot of fat and protein.
Exercise can also play a vital role in negating one’s brain health decline. According to literature from the Alzheimer’s Association, the brain consumes 20% of the body’s oxygen and energy supplies despite only making up only 2% of body weight. A healthy heart and blood vessels increase the amount of blood getting to the brain, and exercise is one of the top ways to promote a healthy cardiovascular system.
Neurodegenerative disorders impact a significant percentage of the older population. There are a number of common symptoms to watch out for, such as impaired memory function or a noticeable change in social interaction. Other warning signs may include loss of muscle control or insomnia. These can indicate that further examination may be necessary. Thankfully, more research is identifying ways to detect neurodegenerative disorders earlier and possibly prevent them with different tactics like berberine’s benefits and exercise.