How to Lower Your Risk for Dementia: 12 Things That May Help Make Your Brain Younger by Jacob Teitelbaum
A new Harvard study, COSMOS 2, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that taking a multivitamin for one year was associated with improved memory and cognition equivalent to reversing age-related memory loss by three years. The randomized clinical trial, which included 3,500 participants aged 60 and over, was the second COSMOS study to show that multivitamins significantly improved brain function – with the “vitamin group” far surpassing the placebo group.
The benefits of taking a multivitamin were maintained throughout the three years of the study. This confirms numerous earlier studies showing that folate (simple folic acid) dramatically lowers dementia risk. In addition to a daily multivitamin, I recommend supplementing with a good B complex, folate, vitamin D and magnesium – all with proven efficacy.
The reason doctors have traditionally been slow to recommend multivitamins is because their training has been pharmaceutical-focused and sorely deficient in nutritional education. This new COSMOS study is an important step toward setting the record straight, and represents a wakeup call to clinicians, researchers and media that cover latest medical findings.
Here are some of my top tips to help save your brain:
- Light Up Your Life: Research published in Brain and Behavior has shown that simply increasing light exposure (which can be done with a lightbox or sunlight) markedly improved cognitive testing. The meta-analysis of 12 randomized studies with 766 dementia patients, showed that phototherapy with bright light, as is used for treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), significantly improved cognition. Lower dementia risk was also associated with other ways of getting vitamin D, a deficiency which has been associated with dementia.
- Come Again? Hearing aids are also a powerful tool for reducing dementia risk. According to a UK observational study, untreated hearing loss contributed to a 42 percent increase in dementia risk compared to peers who had no hearing troubles.
- Please Pass the Omelet: A study covered in Science Daily found that people who ate diets rich in phosphatidylcholine, found in eggs and other foods, were 28 percent less likely to develop dementia. (Try these egg recipes!)
- Take a Hike: No medication yet invented will reduce dementia risk by 50 percent. However, walking 10,000 steps a day might actually do the trick, according to a study in JAMA Neurology.
- Snoring Alert: Tackle sleep apnea, which research published in Neurology in May 2023 has correlated with loss of brain volume and accelerated Alzheimer’s disease.
- Get Enough Sleep: Harvard research recommends getting at least six to eight hours of sleep per night to reduce the risk of dementia and death.
- Eliminate UTIs: From the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, it’s important to eliminate silent infections (e.g., UTIs), to prevent cognitive decline.
- Choose Pepcid: From JAMA Neurology, avoid PPI acid blockers, which can create as much as a 44 percent higher risk of dementia. Use Pepcid instead.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): More than 2/3 of Alzheimer’s patients are women, which likely correlates with reduced estrogen levels following menopause. Although controversial, female hormone replacement may help slow cognitive changes. A January 2023 study in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy suggests that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could provide needed protection. I endorse bio-identical hormones instead of the pharmaceutical version.
- The Spice of Life: Curried foods containing turmeric (and the active ingredient curcumin) are promising for reducing Alzheimer’s risk, which is 70 percent lower in India than the U.S.! (Try these recipes using turmeric.)
- Reduce Chronic Pain: Chronic pain is associated with eight years of excess brain aging. Our published research shows that treating the root causes of pain can often make the pain go away. Just like putting oil in a car makes the oil light go off. And according to research published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this unnecessary chronic pain is associated with eight years of excess brain aging.
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