Category Archives: Dementia

Dementia Rates Are Falling In The U.S.

“An important new national study finds that, after adjusting for age, Americans 65 and older are less likely to get dementia than in the past. The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn (JAMA) confirms previous regional studies in the US as well as recent research in Europe. The reasons for this decline in prevalence of the many dementia-related diseases are complicated, but may be related to higher educational levels. Whatever the cause, the news is positive.”

Source: Dementia Rates Are Falling In The U.S.

High-Dose Omega-3 Supplement May Lower Alzheimer’s Disease Risk in APOE4 Carriers 

Folks who have inherited a gene called APOE4 have a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s Dementia compared to those who don’t have the gene. A recent review suggests that supplementing with an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA may help prevent or slow the onset of the dementia.

Cold-water fatty fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, and consumption of these fish seems to protect against dementia. The “dose” is one or two servings a week, for years.

Not everyone can afford fish and some folks don’t like the the taste. So supplements are a consideration for them.

From MPT:

“Giving long-term high doses of docosahexaenoic [DHA] acid to carriers of the apolipoprotein E ε4 (APOE4) allele before the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia may reduce the risk for AD, or delay the onset of symptoms, and should be studied, according to an expert review.

While the review of landmark observational and clinical trials that assessed supplementation with ω-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA),revealed it was not beneficial in symptomatic AD, several observational and clinical trials of ω-3 supplementation in the pre-dementia stage of AD suggested it may slow early memory decline in APOE4 carriers, reported Hussein Yassine, MD, of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues.”

Source: High-Dose Omega-3 May Lower AD Risk in APOE4 Carriers | Medpage Today

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: My books have several easy fish recipes in them.

Calcium Supplementation Increased Risk of Dementia In Women With Cerebrovascular Disease

Calcium supplements are problematic. They may increase the risk of heart attacks. They may raise the odds of premature cardiac death in men. High calcium consumption increased the risk of death in Swedish women.

MedicalNewsToday has a brief report on dementia in women with cerebrovascular disease and calcium supplements:

“Calcium supplements may increase the risk of developing dementia in senior women with cerebrovascular disease, finds a study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Women who took calcium supplements were twice as likely to develop dementia.Cerebrovascular diseases are conditions caused by problems that affect the blood supply to the brain. The four most common types of cerebrovascular disease are stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), subarachnoid hemorrhage, and vascular dementia.”

Source: Dementia risk increased with calcium supplements in certain women – Medical News Today

Reduce your risk of dementia with the Mediterranean diet.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Two diet books in one

Brain Benefits of Exercise Diminish After Short Rest, Says Gretchen Reynolds 

Steve Parker MD

Admittedly, Gretchen may not have written the headline to her article at Carlos Slim’s blog. The headline is wrong. The gist is that blood flow to the brain diminishes in older competitive runners if they stop exercising for 10 days. Tests of cognitive function showed no deterioration.

Click the link below to read Gretchen’s article, which is brief. A snippet:

“Before you skip another workout, you might think about your brain. A provocative new study finds that some of the benefits of exercise for brain health may evaporate if we take to the couch and stop being active, even just for a week or so.

I have frequently written about how physical activity, especially endurance exercise like running, aids our brains and minds. Studies with animals and people show that working out can lead to the creation of new neurons, blood vessels and synapses and greater overall volume in areas of the brain related to memory and higher-level thinking.

Presumably as a result, people and animals that exercise tend to have sturdier memories and cognitive skills than their sedentary counterparts.

Exercise prompts these changes in large part by increasing blood flow to the brain, many exercise scientists believe. Blood carries fuel and oxygen to brain cells, along with other substances that help to jump-start desirable biochemical processes there, so more blood circulating in the brain is generally a good thing.”

Source: Brain Benefits of Exercise Diminish After Short Rest – The New York Times

I believe regular physical activity does help preserve brain function over time. But there’s more involved than blood flow.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I bet your brain blood flow increases, compared to watching Dancing With the Stars on TV, if you read one of my books.

Brain Shrinkage Linked to Loss of Youthful Thinking Ability

MNT has a headline pregnant with possibility:

‘Super agers’ avoid brain shrinkage, retain youthful thinking abilities

The problem is, we don’t know how to prevent brain shrinkage. The “super agers” may simply have won the genetic lottery. Other factors that might help prevent brain shrinkage include 1) not smoking, 2) the Mediterranean diet, 3) keep your brain actively engaged as you age, 4) exercise, 5) avoid obesity, 6) don’t drink too much alcohol, and 7) consume cold-water fatty fish.

From MNT:

“Touroutoglou and colleagues conducted imaging studies on the brains of the super agers that revealed that the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus (that typically shrink with age) were similar in size to those of young adults.

“We looked at a set of brain areas known as the default mode network, which has been associated with the ability to learn and remember new information, and found that those areas, particularly the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex, were thicker in super agers than in other older adults. In some cases, there was no difference in thickness between super agers and young adults,” Touroutoglou says.

Barrett points out that the team also examined a group of regions in the brain known as the salience network – involved in identifying information that is important and that needs attention for specific situations – and found that several areas had preserved thickness among super-agers, including the anterior insula and orbitofrontal cortex.”

Source: ‘Super agers’ avoid brain shrinkage, retain youthful thinking abilities – Medical News Today

Mediterranean diet may slow cognitive decline, prevent Alzheimer’s 

But we’ve know this for years…

“A new review concludes that a Mediterranean diet is good for the brain, after finding that people who follow the diet are less likely to experience cognitive decline and develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers say greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet may benefit cognitive function for younger and older adults.Lead author Roy Hardman, from the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, and his team publish their findings in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.

The Mediterranean diet incorporates a high intake of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, while limiting intake of red meat and replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil.The diet also emphasizes eating fish or poultry at least twice a week and using herbs and spices rather than salt to flavor food.”

Source: Mediterranean diet may slow cognitive decline, prevent Alzheimer’s – Medical News Today

Does Dietary Fat Influence Older Brain Function?

MRI scan of brain

MRI scan of brain

The Mediterranean diet has long been linked to lower rates of dementia. Olive oil, a staple of the traditional Mediterranean diet, is rich in monounsaturated fatty acid (oleic acid, specifically). The Mediterranean diet is also relatively low in saturated fatty acid.

From a 2012 study done by Harvard researchers:

“In conclusion, these data suggest that elevated saturated fatty acid intake is related to worse late-life cognitive trajectory, and increased monounsaturated fatty acid intake is related to better cognitive aging. Thus, decreasing saturated fatty acid and increasing monounsaturated fatty acid merit further consideration in promoting healthy cognitive aging, and dietary patterns that incorporate higher intake of “good” fats (e.g., Mediterranean) should be further addressed in cognitive aging research.”

Source: Dietary fat types and 4-year cognitive change in community-dwelling older women

PS: The study at hand involved women, so results may not apply to older men.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Two diet books in one