You may notice that I’ve had brains on the brain lately. I’m writing a lot about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia for a few reasons. The first is that it’s one of the biggest concerns I hear from people as they get older.
Another is that so much of cognitive health is in our control. I love when I can tell you about actions you can take right now to improve your health and preserve your brain function as you age. Like the study I want to tell you about today.
Scientists recently found that the lifestyle changes I’m always advocating — diet and exercise — can have a serious impact on Alzheimer’s disease risk. Not only that, but these two simple lifestyle factors seem to change the brain right down to a molecular level.
I’ll give you the study details in just a moment. But first let me remind you about a couple of the main markers of Alzheimer’s disease. The first is amyloid plaque buildup between the nerve cells in the brain. Amyloid refers to protein fragments produced normally in the body. Plaques form when those proteins clump together. For a long time, scientists have hypothesized that amyloid plaque causes Alzheimer’s. But as I’ve explained before, we’re beginning to realize amyloid plaque may only be a marker for something that came before it. Sort of like how cholesterol is a marker for oxidative stress in the coronary arteries — not the true culprit behind heart disease.
The second hallmark you should keep in mind is something called tangles. Tangles are present in dead and dying nerve cells, and they’re made up of twisted protein strands.
And both of these factors came into play in the new research I mentioned above.
The study looked at the diets of 44 people with mild cognitive impairment. Using brain scans, the researchers found that people who followed a Mediterranean-style diet had significantly fewer amyloid plaques and protein tangles in their brains.
Plus, those who exercised more also had clearer brain scans.
On the flip side, people who were overweight or obese had worse tangles.
This is just one more feather in the cap of Mediterranean-style diets like my new A-List Diet, which I can’t wait to share with you. (You can pre-order a copy today by clicking here.)
But even though this study is reiterating somethings we already know (namely, that we should all be exercising and following a diet like the A-List Diet) it also touches on something other studies have not.
In fact, this study is unique because it looked at people with mild cognitive impairment — but who don’t have full-blown Alzheimer’s yet. The researchers attempted to look at why this disease develops. And they tried to determine if there is really anything that can be done about it before it takes hold.
And, it turns out the answer is yes!
Eating a better diet, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
In fact, the researchers pointed out that half of all Alzheimer’s cases are linked to risk factors that we have control over. Even if we just reduced those risks by 10 to 25 percent, we could prevent almost half a million cases of the disease in the United States.
If that doesn’t make you put down that doughnut and take a walk around the block right now, I don’t know what will.
I don’t know about you, but being able to keep my memory and cognitive function in tact right up until my last day on earth is way more important than satisfying my sweet tooth or sitting around watching another rerun.
Perhaps this study will convince more doctors to discuss diet and exercise with their patients, as I do with each and every one of mine. To neglect these pillars of good health is malpractice, in my opinion.
Keep in mind that everything we do in nutritional medicine is a multi-pronged approach. Diet and exercise are the foundations. But to keep your brain functioning at peak performance, it’s also important to keep your brain active and to take nutritional supplements that support brain health.
I’ll continue to keep you informed about all the ways you can protect your brain right here in the Reality Health Check and in my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter. So if you’re not already a subscriber, now is the perfect time to become one.