Alzheimer’s disease will impact a staggering number of Americans during their lifetime. The Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research, now estimates that 5.3 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s in 2015. In ten years, they expect the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s will surpass 7 million.
The irreversible brain disorder generally affects those age 65 years or older. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the one most commonly encountered types of dementia and, with time, affects a person’s cognitive skills, personality, and limits their ability to live independently.
Many studies are currently underway that aspire to slow the disease’s progression and refine treatment. One in particular is examining if the body’s immune system can be aided with curcumin and vitamin D3 so the brain can eliminate the destructive protein or plaques that cause the cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s.
Why those two particular substances? Curcumin is found in the yellow-colored turmeric spice traditionally used in Indian cooking, especially in curries. The elderly population of India has the world’s lowest rate of Alzheimer’s disease. It seems plausible that turmeric, with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, could contribute to the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s important to note that curcumin is more effective when ingested with a black pepper compound called piperine. Indian curries normally contain both turmeric and black pepper.
Vitamin D3 and curcumin cause different immune system reactions. Research has shown that some study participants respond favorably to a combination of vitamin D3 and curcumin while others require only vitamin D3 to kick start the immune system’s fight against the targeted proteins.
The Current Reality
As research progresses, Alzheimer’s continues to affect millions of Americans. As fitness and living well manager for Paradise Valley Estates, a northern California continuing care retirement community, Jan Olson is already seeing the benefits of research in action.
“We know that regular cardiovascular aerobic exercise, eating a Mediterranean diet, as well as staying socially connected and keeping our minds actively engaged lowers a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease,” she says. “We as caregivers also know that we can enhance the quality of day-to-day life for our loved ones and ourselves by learning about the disease, its progression, as well as learning how to effectively communicate with loved ones who are living with Alzheimer’s.”
If you’d like to learn more about the current state of Alzheimer’s research and treatment, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website to access the 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report.