U of L researchers say there may be more to Alzheimer's disease - WDRB 41 Louisville News

U of L researchers say there may be more to Alzheimer's disease than genetics

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LOUISVILLE Ky. (WDRB) -- Alzheimer's disease may not be all about genetics.

Ongoing research at the University of Louisville says brushing your teeth, what you eat and how you exercise may prevent you from getting the disease.

Clara Johnson knew the signs of Alzheimer's disease early because she watched her husband battle the same disease before he died.

"One day I was leaving -- backing out of my driveway -- and I said, 'Well, where am I going?'" she said. "I forgot -- and that's when I knew something had changed."

"It was hard," she added. "My daughter had to move in with us."

But U of L researchers now say Johnson's daughter might be spared the same diagnosis, despite her genes.

"We're researching the initiating factors responsible for neurodegenerative diseases," said Dr. Robert Friedland, a neurologist at the U of L School of Medicine.

That data suggests changes in lifestyle can prevent Alzheimer's disease.

"They need to be more mentally, physically, socially and emotionally active," Friedland said. "They need to eat more fruits and vegetables, have a higher fiber diet, take care of their teeth...these changes will have important beneficial impacts on the brain."

Friedland has published more than 100 papers on dementia, studying the root cause. He's currently analyzing bacteria found in the mouth, nose and gut.

"I can remember most of the time," Johnson explained to her doctor during a checkup.

Parts of Friedland's research have already gone to the bedside. Changes in Clara's diet allowed doctors to greatly reduce her prescriptions

"Actually, stopping her diabetic medication helped her confusion," said Dr. Christian Furman, of U of L Physicians. "She got better. Her memory got better."

The latest reports show 5 million Americans battle Alzheimer's disease. Friedland's work compliments the national goal of finding a cure by 2025, so that the best memories of Clara and her husband will still be intact for their daughter.

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