Your genes aren’t the crystal ball you might think they are.
That’s true for a whole host of diseases… from obesity and cancer all the way to Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
That’s what makes genetics such a fascinating topic to me.
In fact, just last month, I told you about a simple amino acid that—unlike the latest goose egg that Big Pharma brought to the market—may actually be the Alzheimer’s breakthrough we’ve all been waiting for.
And now, new research is suggesting that you might be able to maintain your cognition despite “bad genes”.
In fact, a new study of centenarians who lived to see their 100th birthday recently delivered scientific proof…
Razor sharp, even after a century
This study featured 330 subjects, all over the age of 100, who completed a full battery of psychological and cognitive tests. Researchers factored in sex, age, physical health, and independence level.
They also factored in subjects’ Apolipoprotein E (APOE) status. (APOE is a gene with strong ties to both heart disease and AD.)
Finally, they collected blood and fecal samples to investigate all sorts of factors that can influence health—including genetics, neuropathology, blood markers, and the gut microbiome.
Then, at autopsy after death, the researchers looked at amyloid-beta, neurofibrillary tangles, and levels of neuritic plaque.
(Testing all of these different avenues—including the gut—is important in order to explore all the ways in which the human body functions as a whole, rather than as a bunch of separate parts.)
At the start of the study, the median age of the subjects was 100.5 years. Three-quarters were women, and just over half lived independently. More than 50 percent had good vision and hearing. More than 75 percent could walk independently. And over one-third had completed post-secondary education.
Follow-up lasted as long as four years in some cases. And in all cases, subjects showed no cognitive decline, beyond a “slight” loss of memory function.
Not surprisingly, subjects’ cognitive performance had ties to factors like greater independence, more independence in daily living, and higher educational level. But do you know what didn’t play a role in cognitive decline?
Typical hallmarks of Alzheimer’s—including genetic factors like APOE.
Heart-healthy habits cut cognitive risk in half
Of course, this isn’t the first study to show that you can outlast your brain’s bad genes—and APOE, in particular.
Just last year, researchers at Boston University’s School of Public Health and School of Medicine looked at data from more than 1,200 participants of the Framingham Heart Study. (That’s the longest-running study of heart disease in the country.)
Their analysis included information on genes as well as heart health, collected between 1991 and 1995. They also looked at dementia screening results, collected between 1998 and 2001.
Each participant was assigned a genetic risk score from low to high based on a handful of common gene variants. And they found that participants with high genetic risk were more than 2.5 times more likely to go on to develop dementia, compared to counterparts with low genetic risk.
The researchers examined the risk associated with a specific APOE variant, called APOE-ε4, separately. (Roughly 10 to 15 percent of the population carries this variant.) And this study determined that those people were 2.3 times more likely than the rest of the population to wind up with dementia down the road.
But while plenty of previous studies have already established a link between heart health and dementia risk, these researchers took things a step further…
They scored each participant’s heart health based on seven different lifestyle factors: Exercise levels, cholesterol, diet, blood pressure, weight, blood sugar, and smoking status.
And get this: Subjects who had a high heart health score were 55 percent less likely to go on to develop dementia, compared with those who had low cardiovascular health scores.
What’s more, the researchers didn’t find any interaction between genetic risk factors for dementia and overall cardiovascular health. This means these two factors operate completely independently of one another.
Meaning that, ultimately, they can cancel one another out.
And just in case you need more proof here, buckle up…
The “fertile soil theory” strikes again
Yet another analysis, published just this past summer in PLOS Medicine, looked at more than 6,000 elderly adults (aged 80 or older) from the Chinese Longitudinal Health Longevity Survey. Results also showed that a healthy lifestyle has stronger links to lower risk of cognitive decline than genetics.
In fact, those participants who had healthy or even somewhat healthy lifestyles were significantly less likely—by 55 percent and 28 percent, respectively—to suffer from cognitive impairment.
Those are some pretty impressive numbers for simply following a healthy lifestyle more often than not.
But there’s more: This research also found that the link between lifestyle and cognitive decline wasn’t affected significantly by APOE status.
In other words, no matter what your genetic predisposition is for Alzheimer’s, maintaining a healthy lifestyle in old age is going to help you keep your (very literal) wits about you.
And that’s a pretty critical finding, yet again, since APOE ε4 raises risk of cognitive decline and AD.
Ultimately, this is a welcome reminder of the fertile soil theory: A seed must fall into fertile soil in order to sprout into a sapling. If it falls into concrete, or simply doesn’t get fed or watered, it will wither and die.
Your body is no different. So, don’t give dangerous genes any room to wreak havoc on your body. The environment you create is well within your power and control. Use it wisely, and you’ll reap the rewards for years to come.
And remember, every positive change counts. As I’m always preaching, diet and exercise are crucial to all aspects of your health, including your brain health. So, enjoy healthy, balanced meals full of fresh, whole foods. Then, whenever you’re able, simply get up and move.
For additional tips to help protect and restore memory, strengthen focus, and fight dementia as you age—despite any genetic predisposition—check out my Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment Plan. To learn more about this innovative, online learning tool, or to enroll today, call 1-866-747-9421 and ask for order code GOV3X901… or click here now!