Chronic

Written by Asmaa Housni

 
 

Time.

One of its many definitions is "the measured or measurable period during which an action exists or continues to exist”. This idea embodies the different dimensions that we interact with, and traces the events that have happened in every dimension of our daily lives.

 

While an event can begin and end in the blink of an eye, others can last a lifetime. Some instances stretch indefinitely, insidious in the unconscious mind before resurging to the surface, withstanding time. Chronic.

What if the mind cannot recall those instances?

Moments, once vivid, are now astray and forgotten. The experiences and situations that molded and forged the human cannot be reminisced by our own mind. Memories become insurgent and rebellious. Lurking in the shadows, out of reach, far from grasp, challenging their carrier in the tedious, unsuccessful attempt of reclaiming control. This is Alzheimer’s disease.


As humans grow and evolve, memories are built and constructed. They follow their carrier and influence their decision-making.

Imagine that a body continued its way, progressing forward, while memories cease to follow suit. A body leaving behind what once reflected the very foundation of its being. This is Alzheimer’s disease. Deprived from the emotions evoked by those collections of memories that define an identity. Deprived of the learning experience, an opportunity to build resilience. Deprived of a connection to the past as a guidance for future actions.  


While acute illnesses can either be fatal or curable, chronic diseases can only be managed, contained and restrained from spreading onwards.

They cannot be prevented by vaccine nor cured by medication. A “one disease–one target–one drug” paradigm is facing limitations against multifactorial diseases. Medicine has yet to achieve the next revolutionary treatment to end this degenerative disease.

In the midst of this adversity, one should not succumb to it as a fatality. Instead, we should fight the disease before it makes its appearance. A path less traveled by is nutrition. This fast evolving science paints the intermingling of human metabolism and its regulation of gene function. As a double-edged sword, nutrition can be an enemy or an ally, helping the disease steal your body or helping you vanquish it. Nutrition can have a breadth of effects on the human body. But what components can help prevent brain cell death and plaque formation, interrupting the electric signalling so crucial for solidifying a memory? To what extent can the right foods affect this chronic disease?


 

Alzheimer’s Disease is primarily a manifestation of oxidative stress and chronic inflammation in areas of the brain.

Reactive oxygen species are lacking an electron, and attempt to steal them from the body’s cells to stabilize themselves at the expense of body tissues. Compromising the brain’s circuits, altering its programing and damaging its machinery. With intruded communication and signaling, comes imperiled memory and cognition, and overall neurodegeneration.

For a long time, brain glucose metabolism was thought to be insulin independent. Yet, insulin at normal basal levels may be critical in the maintenance of cerebral metabolism. The presence of insulin receptors on the hippocampus -an organ that shapes and consolidates long-term memories- suggests that this hormone plays a significant role in learning, memory, and cognition. Insulin resistance decreases glucose uptake by the brain cells, reduces cerebral glucose metabolism, and interrupts its role in proper cognitive functions. From another angle, the cell’s inability to take up glucose results in rising blood glucose levels. Exposure of proteins and lipids to excess circulating glucose gives rise to glycated products which contribute to the inflammation and oxidative stress that are characteristic to the incidence of Alzheimer’s.


A core feature of insulin resistance is dyslipidemia, which is defined as an abnormal level of lipid levels in the blood. The brain, a paramount organ controlling cognition and memory, is essentially composed of fats and cholesterol which experience a high turnover in this area. This means that chronic alterations of fat composition in the blood may have a greater risk of affecting the brain. The result of this is the development of amyloid peptides, which are involved in plaque formations, a key diagnostic feature of Alzheimer’s disease.  


 
 
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First day of school.

Moving out.

The taste of coffee.

The scent of soil after rain.

Random. Meaningful.

 
 
 

How can the right foods prevent this chronic disease?

 

Antioxidants can scavenge Reactive oxygen species, and counteract their effects.

A Sample of antioxidant-containing foods:

Omega-3 fatty acids in fish, nuts // Vitamins E, C, and B in leafy greens, citrus fruits, berries, grains

 

Insulin resistance may be prevented By Following the MIND diet:

a diet rich in: natural plant based foods, berries, leafy greens

A diet low in: animals and saturated fat

sounds familiar, right?



omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the amyloid burden through its role in decreasing circulating triglycerides, therefore decreasing risks of Alzheimer’s disease genesis.

 

Alzheimer’s disease is multifactorial, involving genetics, environment, and diet.

That means that monotherapy may not be enough to save an individual from the grasp of this disease. Adopting a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet could be the first approach to decreasing the risk of incidence. Clear and concrete steps to avoiding such an elusive disease cannot be established as of now, but preventative measures can, and should, be taken.

We’re still waiting for the unveiling of innovative and pioneering discoveries within the pharmaceutical and medicinal fields. In the meantime, nutrition can play its role in optimizing the regular functions of mind and body in preventing defects. It is an ally that can help our bodies retrace events and to compose and anchor memories, which when called upon, resurge back to the surface, withstanding time. Chronic.