This Beverage Reversed Normal Age-Related Memory Loss in Three Months

Drinking this could reduce your brain age twenty years in just three months.

Drinking this could reduce your brain age twenty years in just three months.

Cocoa flavanoids — like those contained in a cup of cocoa — can reverse age-related memory loss in older adults, a study finds.

This is the first direct evidence that an important component of memory decline that comes with age can be improved with a simple dietary change.

Typically, normal age-related memory declines are noticeable to people in their fifties and sixties: things like forgetting where the keys are or having trouble recalling a name or word.

These changes are much less severe than those which typically occur as a result of devastating dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, found a high-flavanol diet could restore aspects of older people’s memory back to that of a typical 30- or 40-year-old (Brickman et al., 2014).

The changes were clearly visible in brain scans, as Dr. Adam M. Brickman, the study’s lead author explained:

“When we imaged our research subjects’ brains, we found noticeable improvements in the function of the dentate gyrus in those who consumed the high-cocoa-flavanol drink.”

The image below shows the dentate gyrus in green (this is part of the hippocampus).

Previous research has shown that it is changes in this area of the brain that are associated with normal age-related memory loss.


Participants in the study were 37 healthy people aged between 50 and 69.

They were randomised into two groups, one of which was given a high-flavanol diet (900mg of flavanols per day) and the other given a low-flavanol diet (10mg per day).

At the end of the three-month period of the study, participants on the high-flavanoid diet showed improvements on memory tests.

Professor Scott A. Small, one of the study’s authors, explained the results:

“If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months that person on average had the memory of a typical 30- or 40-year-old.”

Flavanols are also found in tea leaves, and certain fruits and vegetables, although the exact amounts and forms vary widely.

The researchers cautioned that people should not eat more chocolate as the critical flavanoids are not present at the required levels — the dietary supplement used in the study was specially formulated.

Image credit: Lab of Scott A. Small, M.D.

This Little-Known Sign Of Dementia Is Often Overlooked

This symptom of dementia is often overlooked, but very damaging.

This symptom of dementia is often overlooked, but very damaging.

Apathy is the most forgotten symptom of dementia and has a greater impact than memory loss, research concludes.

Nearly half of all people with dementia are apathetic: being highly indifferent, passive, unconcerned and lacking in enthusiasm.

People who are apathetic tend to feel little motivation, passion or excitement in life.

Apathy is linked to worse clinical symptoms and, naturally, is very distressing for families.

Apathy is distinct from depression, the researchers found, with some people with dementia not necessarily feeling down.

Apathy tends to be ignored as it is not a disruptive state, said Mr Miguel Vasconcelos Da Silva, study co-author:

“Apathy is an under-researched and often ignored symptom of dementia.

It can be overlooked because people with apathy seem less disruptive and less engaging, but it has a huge impact on the quality of life of people living with dementia, and their families.

Where people withdraw from activities, it can accelerate cognitive decline and we know that there are higher mortality rates in people with apathy.

It’s now time this symptom was recognised and prioritised in research and understanding.”

The conclusions come from an analysis of 4,320 people with Alzheimer’s disease included in 20 separate studies.

The results showed that 45 percent were apathetic at first, while 20 percent remained that way over time.

Professor Clive Ballard, study co-author, said:

“Apathy is the forgotten symptom of dementia, yet it can have devastating consequences.

Our research shows just how common apathy is in people with dementia, and we now need to understand it better so we can find effective new treatments.

Our WHELD study to improve care home staff training through personalised care and social interaction included an exercise programme that improved apathy, so we know we can make a difference.

This is a real opportunity for interventions that could significantly benefit thousands of people with dementia. “

The study was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles (Da Silva, 2019).

This Personality Trait Preserves Memory And Judgement

The best mindset to ward off cognitive decline can be cultivated using exercises such as visualising your best possible self.

The best mindset to ward off cognitive decline can be cultivated using exercises such as visualising your best possible self.

Older adults with a more optimistic outlook experience fewer memory and judgement problems, research finds.

Optimism has also been linked to desirable health behaviours like:

  • Eating more healthily.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Lower risk of heart conditions and stroke.

For the study, researchers followed around 500 older adults over four years to see if they experienced any cognitive impairments.

The results showed that the best mindset was optimism, which was linked to a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment.

Ms Katerina Gawronski, the study’s first author, said:

“We felt like this was an important topic to investigate and to our knowledge, it’s the first study to examine the link between optimism and cognitive impairment in older adults.

We found that optimism was indeed associated with better cognitive health over time.”

Best mindset can be learned

The good news is that optimism is not fixed in stone.

Exercises such as visualising your ‘best possible self‘ have been shown to increase optimism.

Here is how I’ve previously explained the exercise:

Visualising your best possible self may sound like an exercise in fantasy but, crucially, it does have to be realistic.

Carrying out this exercise typically involves imagining your life in the future, but a future where everything that could go well, has gone well.

You have reached those realistic goals that you have set for yourself.

Then, to help cement your visualisation, you commit your best possible self to paper.

This exercise draws on the proven benefits of expressive writing.

Dr Eric Kim, a study co-author, said:

“Therefore, optimism may be a novel and promising target for prevention and intervention strategies aimed at improving cognitive health.”

The study was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine (Gawronski et al., 2016).

Marriage Has An Amazing Effect On Dementia Risk

Almost 6 million people in the US live with dementia.

Almost 6 million people in the US live with dementia.

Marriage can help stave off dementia, research suggests.

Married people are less likely to develop dementia as they age, multiple studies have found.

The protective effect of marriage could be down to couples helping each other live healthier lives.

They may exercise more, eat a healthier diet and get more social stimulation.

Divorcees, though, are twice as likely to get dementia, with men particularly strongly affected.

People who are divorced have a higher risk of dementia than those who never married, the study found.

Professor Hui Liu, the study’s first author, said:

“This research is important because the number of unmarried older adults in the United States continues to grow, as people live longer and their marital histories become more complex.

Marital status is an important but overlooked social risk/protective factor for dementia.”

The study included 15,379 people over the age of 52.

All were part of a survey carried out over 14 years that asked people about many aspects of their life, including their relationships and health.

Every two years they were given a test of cognitive health.

Divorced people emerged as being at the highest risk of dementia.

This was only partly accounted for by differences in economic status.

Previous studies have shown that marriage can reduce the risk of developing dementia by 42%.

Compared with married people, lifelong singletons were 42% more likely to develop dementia.

People who were widowed had a 20% increased chance of developing dementia.

Professor Liu said:

“These findings will be helpful for health policy makers and practitioners who seek to better identify vulnerable populations and to design effective intervention strategies to reduce dementia risk.”

The study was published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B (Liu et al., 2019).

This Vitamin Supplement Linked To 40% Lower Dementia Risk

It is thought that the vitamin helps clear the brain of the characteristic tangles of proteins that form in dementia.

It is thought that the vitamin helps clear the brain of the characteristic tangles of proteins that form in dementia.

Taking vitamin D supplement could decrease dementia risk, a large study suggests.

People who took vitamin D supplements lived for longer without developing dementia and overall had a 40 percent lower risk of developing the disease.

Adequate vitamin D levels have been repeatedly linked to lower dementia risk by research (1234).

One study has even suggested that adequate levels of vitamin D could prevent almost one-in-five cases of dementia (Navale et al., 2022).

However, the link remains somewhat controversial, with other studies finding no connection (also: Owusu et al., 2018).

Professor Zahinoor Ismail, the study’s first author, acknowledged the contradictory findings from past studies:

“We know that vitamin D has some effects in the brain that could have implications for reducing dementia, however so far, research has yielded conflicting results.

Our findings give key insights into groups who might be specifically targeted for vitamin D supplementation.

Overall, we found evidence to suggest that earlier supplementation might be particularly beneficial, before the onset of cognitive decline.”

Vitamin D and dementia

For this study, data from over 12,000 participants in the US National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center was analysed.

Just over one-third were taking vitamin D supplements.

The results showed that vitamin D supplementation was associated with a reduced dementia risk in all groups.

However, the connection was stronger in women and people who had no pre-existing cognitive deficits, such as mild cognitive impairment.

Similarly, carriers of the APOEe4 gene appeared to benefit more from vitamin D supplementation.

The APOEe4 gene significantly increases the risk of developing dementia.

It is thought that vitamin D helps to clear the brain of the characteristic tangles of proteins that form, known as amyloid and tau.

Dr Byron Creese, study co-author, said:

“Preventing dementia or even delaying its onset is vitally important given the growing numbers of people affected.

The link with vitamin D in this study suggests that taking vitamin D supplements may be beneficial in preventing or delaying dementia, but we now need clinical trials to confirm whether this is really the case.

The ongoing VitaMIND study at the University of Exeter is exploring this issue further by randomly assigning participants to either take vitamin D or placebo and examining changes in memory and thinking tests over time.”

Despite these findings, it is not recommended to take high levels of vitamin D as a preventative measure.

Recommended doses are 600 IU per day for people under 70 and 800 IU for those over 70.

The study was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring (Ghahremani et al., 2023).

The Common Drugs Linked To 50% Increased Risk Of Dementia (M)

Over-the-counter drugs taken by many are linked to a higher risk of dementia.

Over-the-counter drugs taken by many are linked to a higher risk of dementia.

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The Oil That Protects Memory And Reduces Alzheimer’s Risk

This component of the Mediterranean diet protects memory.

This component of the Mediterranean diet protects memory.

Extra-virgin olive oil helps to protect the brain from cognitive decline, research finds.

The oil reduces the formation of protein in the brain that is linked to Alzheimer’s.

The conclusions come from a study of mice, some of whom were fed a diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil.

Professor Domenico Praticò, who led the study, said:

“We found that olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy.

Brain cells from mice fed diets enriched with extra-virgin olive oil had higher levels of autophagy and reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau.”

Autophagy is the natural process by which cells get rid of material that is not required.

The Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet — which contains extra-virgin olive oil — has been repeatedly linked to health benefits.

Some think, though, that it is the consistent use of extra-virgin olive oil in these diets that is mostly responsible for the benefits.

Professor Praticò said:

“The thinking is that extra-virgin olive oil is better than fruits and vegetables alone, and as a monounsaturated vegetable fat it is healthier than saturated animal fats.”

Professor Praticò said:

“This is an exciting finding for us.

Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease were significantly reduced.

This is a very important discovery, since we suspect that a reduction in autophagy marks the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The researchers are now moving on to look at the effects of extra-virgin olive oil after Alzheimer’s has already set in.

Professor Praticò explained:

“Usually when a patient sees a doctor for suspected symptoms of dementia, the disease is already present.

We want to know whether olive oil added at a later time point in the diet can stop or reverse the disease.”

The study was published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology (Lauretti et al., 2017).

This Habit Cuts Alzheimer’s Risk By 25 Percent

An easy, everyday habit can cut Alzheimer’s risk by one-quarter.

An easy, everyday habit can cut Alzheimer’s risk by one-quarter.

Keeping gum disease at bay could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 25 percent, research finds.

The reason is that bacteria related to gum disease can travel from the mouth to the brain.

Once in the brain, they can destroy nerve cells, which ultimately leads to memory loss and, sometimes, Alzheimer’s disease.

Brushing and flossing regularly — along with regular hygiene appointments — helps keep the bacteria in check.

Brushing your teeth regularly could reduce the risk of dementia by more than one-quarter, a previous review of the research found.

Indeed, people with fewer than 20 teeth are 26 percent more likely to develop cognitive problems that could lead to Alzheimer’s.

Dr Piotr Mydel, study co-author, said:

“We discovered DNA-based proof that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain.”

The bacteria causing gingivitis (gum disease) are not the only cause of Alzheimer’s, although they do raise the risk.

The bacteria — called Porphyromonas gingivalis — also increase the speed at which the disease develops.

The conclusions come from a study of 53 people with Alzheimer’s, 96 percent of whom had harmful enzymes.

A further mouse study showed that the bacteria’s movement from mouth to brain can be blocked by an experimental drug.

Dr Mydel said:

“We have managed to develop a drug that blocks the harmful enzymes from the bacteria, postponing the development of Alzheimer’s.

We are planning to test this drug later this year.”

Professor Jan Potempa, study co-author, said:

“Oral hygiene is very important throughout our life, not only for having a beautiful smile but also to decrease the risk of many serious diseases.

People with genetic risk factors that make them susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis or Alzheimer’s disease should be extremely concerned with preventing gum disease.”

The study was published in the journal Science Advances (Dominy et al., 2019).

The Vitamin-Like Nutrient That Reduces Dementia Risk

People with the highest intakes had a 28 percent lower risk of dementia, the study found.

People with the highest intakes had a 28 percent lower risk of dementia, the study found.

Choline, a vitamin-like essential nutrient, may reduce the risk of dementia, research finds.

People with the highest intake of phosphatidylcholine, a form of choline, had a 28 percent lower risk of dementia, the study found.

Choline is mainly found in meat and, like omega-3 fatty acids, is an essential nutrient that has to be obtained from food.

This vitamin-like essential nutrient is also produced by the liver, but the amount is too small for the body’s requirements.

Choline is part of lecithin, which is known for its effect in treating memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

National dietary surveys show that choline intake on average is low in the US, Europe and Australia.

Good sources of choline include:

  • Egg yolk,
  • beef,
  • fish,
  • chicken,
  • wheat germ,
  • soy beans,
  • dairy products,
  • peanuts,
  • and almonds.

The study included 2,497 men in Finland who were followed for an average of 22 years.

They were asked about their lifestyle and dietary habits and given tests of memory and cognitive processing.

The results revealed that men with the highest intake of phosphatidylcholine had a 28 percent lower risk of developing dementia and better scores on tests of memory and thinking.

The two main sources of phosphatidylcholine in their diet were eggs and meat.

Ms Maija Ylilauri, the study’s first author, cautioned:

“However, this is just one observational study, and we need further research before any definitive conclusions can be drawn.”

Danger of veganism

Recent research warned that vegans may be putting their brain health at risk.

A vegan diet can increase the risk of brain malnutrition and damage due to lack of essential nutrients, such as choline.

Choline is not only essential for brain health but also influences liver function as shortfalls in this nutrient can cause cell damage and irregularities in fat metabolism.

The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Ylilauri et al., 2019).

An Unexpected Sign Of Alzheimer’s Disease

This simple test can help to predict Alzheimer’s disease.

This simple test can help to predict Alzheimer’s disease.

Being unaware of memory loss is actually an important warning sign for developing Alzheimer’s disease, research finds.

People who were unaware of their own memory problems — known as anosognosia — were 64 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s within 5 years.

On the other hand, if you are worried about memory loss, but your partner isn’t, then it’s probably not Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Philip Gerretsen, the study’s lead author, said:

“If patients complain of memory problems, but their partner or caregiver isn’t overly concerned, it’s likely that the memory loss is due to other factors, possibly depression or anxiety.

They can be reassured that they are unlikely to develop dementia, and the other causes of memory loss should be addressed.”

The conclusions come from the largest ever study on the self-awareness of dementia.

Over one thousand people aged 55 to 90 were involved.

Being unaware of memory problems predicted the shift from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers found.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Gerretsen et al., 2017).