Just yesterday, we talked about how early intervention for any disease—and Alzheimer’s disease, in particular—is the best strategy for prevention.
And on Monday, we discussed the underacknowledged role that psychological and social factors influence your health.
Well, I recently came across new research that brings these two worlds together. And its conclusions reveal one more way to get a jump on potential memory loss before it takes hold, for good…
Researchers at Florida State University College of Medicine have discovered that certain personality traits could be an early red flag for brain changes associated with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis down the road.
This study focused on two traits: neuroticism (a tendency toward negative emotions) and conscientiousness (a tendency to be careful and responsible).
Both traits have established links to dementia. But unlike previous studies, which focused on their role in clinical diagnosis, this research looked at their links to neuropathology—that is, the actual brain changes that point to Alzheimer’s before more obvious symptoms (like memory loss) turn up.
The analysis combined research featuring more than 3,000 subjects. And it found that both amyloid and tau (the two proteins behind the hallmark plaques and tangles of Alzheimer’s disease) were higher in patients with more neurotic and less conscientious tendencies.
And get this: That link was higher in cognitively “normal” people than it was in people already experiencing memory problems.
These findings are reassuring for anyone who scores low in neuroticism and high in conscientiousness. But if you find yourself on the other end of the spectrum, you aren’t entirely doomed.
For one thing, it’s just as likely that the brain changes linked to these traits are based on a lifetime of emotions and behavior. That means that addressing these psychosocial factors—sooner than later—could potentially help to ward off a dementia diagnosis.
So, even if you’re a natural worrywart, focusing on stress relief and getting the mental health support you need could make a world of difference. (I provide some practical tips in the January 2016 issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter [“The secret culprit sabotaging your self-control”]. Click here to become a subscriber!)
Similarly, conscientious people are more likely to watch their diet and exercise regularly. But even if this trait doesn’t come to you naturally, you can still choose to make a concerted effort to practice more consistency in your daily routine—which, as I’m always telling you, is the real key to achieving good health.
The bottom line? Know thyself—and plan accordingly. It just might save your brain… and your overall health.
“Personality traits linked to hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.” Science Daily,10/12/2021. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/10/211012185709.htm)