My grandmother died from Alzheimer’s almost 18 years ago. If you’ve experienced the decline of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you intimately know the pain and grief this horrible disease causes.

Some experts consider Alzheimer’s an autoimmune disease, and unfortunately once you have one (such as Hashimoto’s), you’re more likely develop other autoimmune conditions.

Brain fog is a classic symptom of Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism. Feeling forgetful? Can’t focus? It’s easy to wonder if you’re teetering on the slippery slope toward Alzheimer’s or dementia, especially if you have a family history.


My Grandmother’s Journey With Dementia

I watched this once-vital woman — my grandma and one of the great loves of my life — slowly deteriorate. The first signs were memory loss and confusion. Her personality changed. She balked at having a caretaker in her home, but my mom and uncle had no choice. She was a danger to herself. Ultimately, she needed to move into a nursing home.

Most brutal was when my grandma forgot my name. And at the end, when I took my babies to visit her in the nursing home, she had no clue they were her grandchildren.

Before Alzheimer’s claimed her mind, Goldie was a sharp-witted woman who worked most of her life. Her favorite hobby was worrying. Oy — she was a professional worrier!

I remember that as soon as you’d walk in the door to her home, grandma immediately asked:  “What do you want to eat?” Ironically, she wasn’t a great cook, but she always wanted to feed you. When she hosted the family for dinner, she never sat down at the table herself. She busied herself cooking, serving and cleaning up, admonishing you to “sit, sit, sit.”

And wow, grandma had a legendary sweet tooth. You’d always find ice cream in the freezer, a special drawer full of candy bars in the hallway, and usually a box of treats from Waldorf bakery on the kitchen counter. Her home was a kid’s dream.


Will I Get Alzheimer’s? Will You?

Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed I’m more forgetful. Every time I attempt to say something and can’t find the word I want, I cringe. Every time I misplace my phone or can’t remember a conversation I had with one of my kids, I wonder: Is it starting? Am I on the downward slide to Alzheimer’s? Or is it brain fog related to my hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease? Is too much red wine causing my memory loss?

So I purchased 23 and Me to find out if I have a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s. I wanted to know (yet at the same time I didn’t want to know) if I have the APOE 4 gene associated with an increased risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. When I clicked on the report, this is what it said:

Lisa, you do not have the ε4 variant we tested.

Pause… breathe…

I have tears in my eyes as I write this.

Does that mean I definitely won’t develop Alzheimer’s? No.

23 and Me is quick to point out your risk also depends on other factors, including lifestyle, environment, and genetic variants not covered by this test.


What You Can Do About Your Alzheimer’s Risk

So why do I share this with you today? I’m not saying my grandmother developed Alzheimer’s because she ate too much sugar. But I’ve done enough research to know that nutrition and lifestyle significantly contribute to your risk of Alzheimer’s.

And even if you do have the APOE 4 gene, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed. Lifestyle and environmental factors play a huge role in whether that gene gets turned “on.”

Studies show that you do, in fact, have the ability to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. And while there is no cure or medication to date that offers much hope, there are scientists who have found ways to prevent and reverse the cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s, at least in the beginning stages.


Decreasing Your Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s

One of the ways you can help prevent Alzheimer’s is to take care of your hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease. So I’m practicing what I preach in my Step-by-Step Solutions for Women With Hypo & Hashi’s. In the program, I address nutrition, movement, stress, sleep and toxins — lifestyle and environmental factors that we DO have control over.

There is hope.

Don’t be fearful of whether you’ll develop a disease like Alzheimer’s. Let’s do something about it.

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