DUBAI // Lifestyle changes must be made to tackle rising rates of Alzheimer’s in the UAE, according to doctors and scientists who spoke at a forum on the disease at the Canadian University of Dubai.
Speaking at the I Love My Brain forum, Dr Graham Simpson, medical director at Intelligent Health Centre in Dubai, said the rising incidence of Alzheimer’s was linked to poor diet and lack of exercise.
He said that starting with good gut health was vital, in addition to getting people more active and eating better.
“The best way to combat Alzheimer’s is to educate mothers and kitchen hands,” said Dr Graham.
“Half the world’s diseases would disappear if we followed this simple rule. Drugs cannot cure Alzheimer’s or most modern diseases, but diet and nutrition can.”
Last year, The National reported that the incidence of Alzheimer's disease may be underestimated because many families attribute signs of dementia to the natural ageing process.
Doctors claimed that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s and other memory loss disorders could increase last year’s figure of 4,300 cases to 32,000 by 2030.
Last year, 40 million people died of Alzheimer’s and it is projected that the number will rise to 70 million by 2030.
This week, Dr Simpson stressed the importance of diet in the disease’s prevention.
“Most of our diseases come from one source: our diet. Nearly 50 per cent of food in the Gulf is processed and that is killing us. It is toxic to the brain. The fatty foods we consume lead to serious ailments, including diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s. Add to this the lifestyle adopted by most people, eating fatty foods and sugary drinks.
“The time has come to move from drugs to nutrition. There are no short cuts, just sensible eating and regular exercise can help reduce diseases like Alzheimer’s.”
Dr Efthymios Papatzikis, assistant professor in educational neuroscience in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the university, who is also a musician, referred to the growing evidence of the role of music in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
He said: “It is acknowledged that Alzheimer’s has no cure, but preventive measures can be taken. People need not wait until they are 70 to take steps to prevent it.”
Quoting research on how music can possibly slow Alzheimer’s, he offered insights into how music activates the whole brain.
“More research needs to be done to understand the brain’s complexity,” he said.
“It is known that therapy using singing tunes improves psycho-motor speed in Alzheimer’s patients and music is known to enhance verbal episodic memory. More research needs to be done exactly how music affects the human brain.”