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).

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).

This Drink May Cut Dementia Risk In Half

It can help clear the brain of toxins.

It can help clear the brain of toxins.

Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol is linked to a 45% lower risk of dementia, research concludes.

Moderate drinkers — those who drink no more than around a bottle and half of wine a week — saw the reduced risk in comparison to those who do not drink.

Moderate drinkers also had a lower risk of dementia than those who drank heavily.

As alcohol intake increases, so does the risk of dementia.

A couple of alcoholic drinks per day, though, can help clear the brain of toxins, some research finds.

Low levels of alcohol — the equivalent of around 2.5 standard drinks per day — may help to remove waste linked to Alzheimer’s disease and reduce inflammation in the brain.

The study’s authors write:

“We show that both long term alcohol abstinence and excessive alcohol consumption may increase the risk of dementia.

Given the number of people living with dementia is expected to triple by 2050 and the absence of a cure, prevention is key.”

The study’s conclusions come from an analysis of 9,087 people who were followed for around 23 years between 1985 and 1993.

Dr Sevil Yasar, writing in a linked editorial, said:

“The most intriguing finding from this study was the significantly increased risk of dementia among abstainers, including long term abstainers and participants who became abstainers, and that association was only present in those who abstained from wine.”

Dr Yasar continued:

“Wine, in addition to alcohol, contains polyphenolic compounds, which have been associated with neuroprotective effects on both neurodegenerative and vascular pathways, and with cardioprotective effects through inflammation reduction, inhibition of platelet aggregation, and alteration of lipid profile.”

One limitation of the study is that people who abstain from alcohol may have a history of overindulgence.

Along with the study design, this makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions about causality.

The study was published in the BMJ (Sabia et al., 2018).

The Common Food That Shrinks Your Brain

The food that shrinks your brain and leads to dementia.

The food that shrinks your brain and leads to dementia.

The average person eats the equivalent of an extra burger meal every day compared with 50 years ago, research finds.

A burger, fries and soft drink works out to an extra 650 calories per day.

That is around 30 percent more calories than people need.

The consequences for people’s waistlines and their brains is devastating.

Brain health declines dramatically as a result of poor nutrition, especially early in life.

One of the main culprits is sugar, which accelerates neurodegeneration and impairs cognitive function.

People need to eat well and exercise early in life to avoid brain shrinkage and dementia later on.

Professor Nicolas Cherbuin, the study’s first author, said:

“People are eating away at their brain with a really bad fast-food diet and little-to-no exercise.

We’ve found strong evidence that people’s unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise for sustained periods of time puts them at serious risk of developing type 2 diabetes and significant declines in brain function, such as dementia and brain shrinkage.”

The conclusions come from a review of around 200 studies carried out around the world.

Fully 30 percent of the world’s population is obese now, and 10 percent will have type 2 diabetes by 2030.

Professor Cherbuin said:

“The link between type 2 diabetes and the rapid deterioration of brain function is already well established.

But our work shows that neurodegeneration, or the loss and function of neurons, sets in much, much earlier—we’ve found a clear association between this brain deterioration and unhealthy lifestyle choices.

The damage done is pretty much irreversible once a person reaches midlife, so we urge everyone to eat healthy and get in shape as early as possible—preferably in childhood but certainly by early adulthood.”

The effort to improve diet is coming too late for many, said Professor Cherbuin:

“What has become really apparent in our investigation is that advice for people to reduce their risk of brain problems, including their risk of getting dementia, is most commonly given in their 60s or later, when the ‘timely prevention’ horse has already bolted.

Many people who have dementia and other signs of cognitive dysfunction, including shrinking brains, have increased their risk throughout life by eating too much bad food and not exercising enough.

One of the best chances people have of avoiding preventable brain problems down the track is to eat well and exercise from a young age.

The message is simple, but bringing about positive change will be a big challenge.

Individuals, parents, medical professionals and governments all have an important role to play.”

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology (Cherbuin & Walsh, 2019).

This Change In Personality Indicates Dementia

Older people given personality tests were followed for many years to see who developed dementia.

Older people given personality tests were followed for many years to see who developed dementia.

Increases in the personality trait of neuroticism are a sign that someone will go on to develop dementia, research finds.

Neuroticism is a personality trait that is strongly linked to anxiety, sadness, irritability and self-consciousness.

People higher in neuroticism find it harder to deal with stress and tend to see threats everywhere.

The conclusions come from analysis of data from almost two thousand people in the US and the Netherlands.

Older people given personality tests were followed for many years to see who developed dementia.

The study’s authors explain:

“These findings provide reliable evidence of a consistent pattern of neuroticism increases preceding dementia diagnosis, and, further, suggest that change in neuroticism may occur early in the disease process.

Additionally, these results indicate that individuals who remain undiagnosed have markedly different trajectories of neuroticism compared to individuals not diagnosed with incident dementia or MCI [mild cognitive impairment].”

Along with increasing neuroticism, the researchers also found that people who went on to be diagnosed with dementia also saw decreases in extraversion.

They write:

“Assessments of extraversion, conscientiousness, openness and agreeableness were also available…

Our analyses revealed significant decreases in extraversion only, and solely for individuals with MCI [mild cognitive impairment].

These results may indicate that individuals with MCI might feel more cognitively challenged in the presence of others, possibly leading to avoidance of social activity.”

The study was published in the The Journals of Gerontology (Yoneda et al., 2018).

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