In case Tuesday’s conversation left you fearing that your own brain could be on the chopping block, let me take some time today to share some really good news: Your future cognitive health is very much in your hands.
As you may have noticed, I always like to remind you that your genes are just one small piece of the puzzle when it comes to your health—from conditions like obesity all the way to cancer.
Genes don’t decide your fate. You—and your decisions—do. The choices you make today are what really set the stage for tomorrow. And as recent research shows, that remains true even if you have a family history of dementia.
Wrestling with Alzheimer’s genes
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—the longest-running study of heart disease in the country.
Their analysis included information on genes as well as heart health data, 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 then examined the risk associated with another dementia-linked genotype, called APOE-ε4, separately. (Roughly 10 to 15 percent of the population carries this form of gene.) 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.
Now, this might sound like devastating news to anyone who carries any of these particular risky gene variants. But here’s where things get really interesting…
You can still cut your risk
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 guess what they found?
Subjects who had a high heart health score were 55 percent less likely to go on to develop dementia later in life, compared with those who had low cardiovascular health scores.
In addition, the researchers didn’t find any interaction at all between genetic risk factors for dementia and overall cardiovascular health. Which means that these two factors operate completely independently of one another… and ultimately, they can cancel one another out, too.
This study appeared in the journal Neurology. And the take-home message is clear: It’s never too late (or too early) to turn your health around—and to slash your risk of even the scariest diseases in the process, no matter what your genes might bring to the table.
Just remember, every positive change counts. And when it comes to dementia prevention, in particular, you can’t afford to neglect your heart health.
As always, that starts with regular, moderate exercise and a healthy, balanced diet. But there are a handful of other natural approaches to help prevent and reverse America’s biggest killers—high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke—and ultimately, to keep your heart healthy. To learn more, check out my Ultimate Heart Protection Protocol.
“Genes and cardiovascular health both affect dementia risk: Individuals with genetic risk factors for dementia can still reduce their risk by improving their cardiovascular health.” Science Daily, 07/21/2020. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200721114729.htm)