You can help your brain, especially as it ages, by eating and drinking right
Data from 196,383 older adults (60+; mean age 64) in the UK Biobank found that a healthy lifestyle was associated with lower dementia risk regardless of genes.
Both an unhealthy lifestyle and high genetic risk were associated with higher dementia risk.
Lifestyle factors included smoking, physical activity, diet, and alcohol consumption. Bearing in mind that lifestyle factors were self-reported, 68.1% followed a healthy lifestyle, 23.6% were intermediate, and 8.2% followed an unhealthy lifestyle. Regarding genes, 20% were at high risk, 60% were intermediate, and 20% were at low risk.
Of those at high genetic risk, 1.23% developed dementia in the 8-year period (remember that these are people who are still relatively — the average age at study end would still only be 72), compared with 0.63% of those at low genetic risk. Of those at high genetic risk plus an unhealthy lifestyle, 1.78% developed dementia compared to 0.56% of those at low risk with a healthy lifestyle. Among those who had a high genetic risk but a healthy lifestyle, 1.13% developed dementia in the period.
I trust that these people will continue to be followed — it will be very interesting to see the statistics in another 10 years.
There were 1,769 new cases of dementia during the 8-year study period.
 Lourida, I., Hannon E., Littlejohns T. J., Langa K. M., Hyppönen E., Kuźma E., et al.
(2019). Association of Lifestyle and Genetic Risk With Incidence of Dementia.
JAMA. 322(5), 430 - 437.
A diet containing compounds found in green tea and carrots reversed Alzheimer's-like symptoms in mice genetically programmed to develop the disease. The two compounds were EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), a key ingredient in green tea, and FA (ferulic acid), which is found in carrots, tomatoes, rice, wheat and oats.
After three months, the treatment completely restored working memory deficits seen in the Alzheimer's mice. The compounds appeared to help prevent amyloid precursor proteins from breaking up into amyloid beta, as well as reduce neuroinflammation and oxidative stress in the brain.
The amount of EGCG and FA was no more than could be gained from an appropriate diet.
 Mori, T., Koyama N., Tan J., Segawa T., Maeda M., & Town T.
(2019). Combined treatment with the phenolics (−)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate and ferulic acid improves cognition and reduces Alzheimer-like pathology in mice.
Journal of Biological Chemistry. 294(8), 2714 - 2731.
A study involving 116 healthy older adults (65-75) has found that higher levels of several key nutrients in the blood were associated with more efficient brain connectivity and better cognitive performance. In fact, the findings suggest that the level of nutrients governs the strength of the association between functional brain network efficiency and cognitive performance.
The study looked at 32 key nutrients in the Mediterranean diet. The effective nutrients, which appeared to work synergistically, included omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, carotenoids, lycopene, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
A pattern of omega-3s, omega-6s and carotene was linked to better functional brain network efficiency.
Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in fish, walnuts and Brussels sprouts; omega-6 fatty acids are found in flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and pistachios; lycopene is the vivid red pigment in tomatoes, watermelon and a few other fruits and vegetables; alpha- and beta-carotenoids give sweet potatoes and carrots their characteristic orange color.
 Zwilling, C. E., Talukdar T., Zamroziewicz M. K., & Barbey A. K.
(2019). Nutrient biomarker patterns, cognitive function, and fMRI measures of network efficiency in the aging brain.
NeuroImage. 188, 239 - 251.
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