By Matthew Keck–
Sam Cotton, program manager of Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program at the University of Louisville Trager Institute, spoke at the monthly “Beer with a Scientist” on Sept. 11. She presented on how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and irreversible disease and is characterized by the presence of plaque and tangles in the brain. It impacts the person’s memory, their ability to conceptualize and how to process information.
Cotton’s main focus during the presentation was centered around nutrition. “There’s a connection between taking care of yourself [and Alzheimer’s],” said Cotton.
She wants to make people aware that having a focus on their nutrition as being medicinal can aid in prevention of Alzheimer’s. “If you’re not eating to take care of yourself that isn’t going to help your brain,” said Cotton.
This can mean switching to a specific kind of diet to help produce healthy bacteria or provide certain fatty acids within the body. She emphasized the importance of healthy bacteria in our guts because when it is low it causes deposits of amyloid beta, a harmful protein that kills brain cells, in the brain which can be linked to Alzheimer’s.
Even something as simple as eating more yogurt with active cultures or choosing healthier alternatives in one’s diet can help prevent Alzheimer’s. Cotton did recommend that people should consult with their primary care provider before totally overhauling their diet.
Other areas Cotton discussed included social, mental and physical health. She said that being physically and socially active helps prevent Alzheimer’s.
During the presentation Cotton talked about research done at Harvard that possibly links Alzheimer’s to diabetes. According to the Harvard research, “Scientists noted that the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease who did not have type 1 or type 2 diabetes showed many of the same abnormalities of those with diabetes, including reduced levels of insulin in the brain.”
There are currently 5.5 million people in the U.S. diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Cotton said Kentucky is predicted to have 86,000 people with Alzheimer’s by the year 2025.
This month’s “Beer with a Scientist” was part of Research!Louisville, which highlighted health research done by physicians, nurses, students and researchers. Research!Louisville was from Sept. 10 through the 13, coinciding with Optimal Aging month in Louisville.
Graphic By Shayla Kerr / The Louisville Cardinal