Tag Archives: dementia

Insane Medicine – Lowering Dementia Risk


Research is demonstrating that treating multiple risk factors for dementia results in better outcomes than treating each factor individually. Risk factors include:

  1. Poor nutrition
  2. obesity’smoking
  3. physical inactivity
  4. cardiovascular risks
  5. depression
  6. social isolation
  7. lack of mental stimulation

Strategies to help deal with these risks have been shown to help improve cognitive performance. Just treating single variables such as high blood pressure or lack of exercise has less effect than hitting multiple factors at once. A study in Lancet Neurology (August 2014) revealed that one-third of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) cases are attributable to modifiable factors and thus AD may be reduced in prevalence by improved education , treatment of depression, and management of vascular risk factors such as physical inactivity, smoking, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.

  • Get regular exercise: this reduces stress, improves blood flow to the brain, strengthens connection of neurons in the brain, improves medical health and balance, thus reducing falls. The goal is 30 minutes of aerobic activity five times a week (walking, dancing, biking as examples) and strength training twice a week.
  • Challenge your brain: Demanding brain activities utilizing different aspects of your intellect help protect against cognitive decline, making your mind more efficient and able to focus. So expose yourself to new ideas and challenges mentally, so that you can maintain your memory skills and concentration abilities. Things like cross-word puzzles, checkers or cards help build up your brain as do math problems. Research shows that staying intellectually engaged may prevent AD. These types of brain challenges add to your cognitive reserve. Social interaction also plays a role in preventing cognitive decline. It has been found that those who play more games or puzzles were more likely to perform better on test of memory, learning, and information processing. They also have greater brain volume in areas associated with memory. Mental workouts enhance brain blood flow and promote cell growth, stronger neuron connections, and keep the brain efficient. It makes the brain less sensitive to trauma such as drugs, stroke, or disease. The internet has resources to help:  http://brainworkshop.sourceforge.net/  or http://sporcle.com/  or http://syvum.com/teasers/  or http://www.braingle.com/  or http://www.billsgames.com/brain-teasers/   So consider crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, word searches, math problems, an brainteasers to exercise your mind!
  • Treat mental illness, especially depression: Sadness, hopelessness, and lack of energy may signal depression. Depression is associated with a high risk of cognitive decline. See your doctor to help get treatment.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eat complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid sodas, sweets, and excess sugars. Protein is essential for growth and cell maintenance, so consider lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, low fat dairy,  nuts, and beans. Chose healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed oil, fish, and nuts. Monounsaturated fats are also healthful and is present in olive and canola oils. Polyunsaturated fats from corn, safflower, and sunflower seeds are fine as well. Avoid trans-fats. Remember to include your micronutrients and phytochemicals (found in plant sources).
  • Treat cardiovascular risks: Stop smoking, lose weight, be physically active, treat high blood pressure and diabetes, take your prescribed medications.

Avoid Trans-fats in your diet. It is found in many junk foods, especially fast foods, processed foods, baked goods, margarine, and other sources. These products and trans-fats perform about 10% worse on cognitive tests than those who consumed minimal amounts. Trans-fats promote oxidative stress and damage the memory center of the brain, the hippocampus.

Magnesium is essential for brain functioning. It is found in green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and hard water. Magnesium helps in energy production, needed especially in the brain. It helps in the formation and release of neurotransmitters as well as functioning of connections in the brain (synapses) to process new information. Studies in Molecular Brain (September 2014) demonstrated that magnesium L-threonate (MgT) supplementation prevented memory decline and prevented synapse loss in mice prone to AD. It also reduced the deposition of beta-amyloid protein in the brain (a cause of AD) Risk factors for magnesium depletion include chronic alcoholism, diabetes, excessive coffee intake, inflammatory bowel disease such as Chrone’s disease, diuretic intake, liver and kidney disease,  and excessive soda and salt intake.The RDA is 400 mg a day – http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/  This link points to sources of magnesium for your diet. Foods included are Almonds, spinach, cashews, peanuts, shredded wheat cereal, soy milk, black beans, whole wheat bread, avocado, baked potato, brown rice, plain yogurt, and others.

This sounds dumb but avoid head injury – it has been shown that older adults who have a head injury are at higher risk of dementia, especially over the age of 65. The main reason for these injuries are falls, many of which are preventable and may be due to deconditioning and weakness from lack of exercise. Remember that exercise increases strength and balance.

Remember to not be anxious over your health – don’t become a hypochondriac. Maintain your health through proper eating, exercise, risk management of cardiovascular problems (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking cessation), taking your prescribed medications, and regular physician check-ups will maximize your health. Don’t get preoccupied with health matters and fears of disease such that they interfere with your daily activities and enjoyments in life. Keep yourself busy and distracted by learning new tasks and volunteering. Consider meditation, relaxing your body and mind, concentrating on the present moment. Exercise your body to reduce stress and reduce your anxiety. This will build your physical strength and increase your feelings of well-being. Keep your head up with positive feeling and be grateful for the good things in your life and those things you can control. Don’t stress out!!




Insane Medicine – Obesity increases your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Obesity increases your risk of diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and cancer. It also increases your risk of cognitive decline. It has been shown, however, that weight loss can reverse some of the cognitive decline! This was shown in patients with gastric bypass who were found to have improvements in their executive functioning after surgery and weight loss. Executive functioning includes the processes of organizing, planning, an decision-making. Also improved is attention and memory.
  • Also linked to this cognitive decline in obese people is lack of physical activity, poor inflammatory-type diet, and depression.
  • Increased fat causes problems in executive functioning, decreased memory, and  decreased processing speeds, all of which worsen with age as well. The high content of simple sugars and saturated fat cause a disruption in the blood-brain barrier that allow inflammation to occur in the brain, especially from the passage of Interleukin-1, which is secreted by fat and passes through this disrupted brain barrier. The hippocampus is the target that is affected, thereby diminishing memory by disrupting the connections in the brain called synapses. In the lab, lowering the brain’s level of interleukin-1 results in improved cognitive performance.

What to do? Emphasis on healthy choices and then weight loss:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Decrease stress through relaxation, meditation, or other routes.
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • From Harvard's healthy eating plate - one-half the plate is for fruits and vegetables, one-fourth with whole grains, the rest is devoted to fish, beans, nuts, or chicken - all unprocessed.
    From Harvard’s healthy eating plate – one-half the plate is for fruits and vegetables, one-fourth with whole grains, the rest is devoted to fish, beans, nuts, or chicken – all unprocessed.


  • Eat a proper diet, less processed food, for example, use whole wheat bread and avoid processed meats such as hot dogs or salami. Choose low fat dairy products. Avoid additives or flavorings.Chose healthy plant oils such as canola and olive oils. Eat smaller portions of food.
  • Caffeine intake can  be safe in adults up to 400 mg a day and can increase wakefulness, better recall of spatial information, improved attention, faster reaction time,  and decrease feelings of fatigue.  It may also enhance memory and cognition as well. One study linked drinking three to five cups of coffee a day with a 65 % decrease in dementia. Caffeine was noted to decrease the formation of tau protein in the hippocampus of rats. Tau protein deposition is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.  Caffeine enhances the brains’s memory and allows the consolidation of information for the long term.

Insane Medicine – Low Vitamin D is linked to a greater increased risk of Dementia!

Vitamin D
Vitamin D and its effects in the body.
  • The nervous system does not function normally without Vitamin D. It is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine. Vitamin D protects against inflammation in the brain, particularly in the hippocampus, which is important in memory.
  • Vitamin D injections lessen age-related inflammation and also improve age-related memory impairments. In particular, it augments the removal of beta-amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • There is a strong association between vitamin D level and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In particular, people deficient in Vitamin D (levels less than 20ng/ml) have a 53% increase risk of becoming demented, and a 69% increase risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. In severe Vitamin D deficiency (levels less than 10 ng/ml), the chance of Alzheimer’s is 122%!
  • Recommended intake of Vitamin D per the Institute of Medicine is 600 IU/day of Vitamin D for age under 70, and 800 IU/day for age over 70.
  • There is evidence that you can safely take up to 4000 IU/day of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D sources and effects with depletion
Vitamin D sources and effects with depletion