8 Ways to Upgrade Your Brain
You may be surprised at the wealth of the evidence that age-related memory loss resulting in a diagnosis of dementia, really can be prevented. The very same actions that reduce your future risk for dementia also upgrade your brain giving you the best framework for mental clarity, good memory and mood.
Watch this film to understand how what you eat has a direct effect on how your brain works...
The Experts Agree what prevention steps are necessary
At Food for the Brain our Scientific Advisory Board represents a broad range of experts in Alzheimer’s dementia prevention. Our former Chair, Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Oxford, authored a statement signed by 109 international experts from 36 countries, submitted to the G8 summit in 2013 and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease. At that time they concluded that ‘about half of Alzheimer’s disease cases worldwide might be attributable to known risk factors. Taking immediate action on the known risk factors could perhaps prevent up to one-fifth of predicted new cases by 2025.’ This was based on the assumption that it is hard to change people’s diet and lifestyle.
Since then there have been 396 studies, 153 of which are randomized controlled trials, which also show what actions have the best evidence for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. This review, headed by one of our SAB team, Professor Jin-Tai Yu from the Department and Institute of Neurology in Shanghai’s Fudan University, was published in 2020. These and other reviews show that the best evidence for the prevention of Alzheimer’s, which accounts for two thirds of all dementia, are by:
- Controlling your weight
- Lowering blood homocysteine with B vitamins
- Controlling blood sugar and preventing diabetes which means a low sugar and low glycemic load diet
- Achieving sufficient omega-3 fat intake, primarily from seafood and omega-3 supplements (vegan omega-3 derived from seaweed can be supplemented)
- Eating a ‘Mediterranean’ diet with antioxidant rich fruit, vegetables and vitamin C
- Controlling your blood pressure, helped by all the above
- Preventing depression, stress and a lack of sleep
- Keeping physically, socially and intellectually active
- Not smoking and not drinking alcohol excessively
Assess your Dementia Risk Index across 8 prevention domains
We organise these risk factors into 8 domains. It is now well established that at least half the risk for Alzheimer’s are aspects of your life and nutrition – both diet and supplements- that are under your control. Only 1% of Alzheimer’s is caused by genes. (Read ‘Myths About Alzheimer’s) We estimate that it is likely that targeting these risk factors in a population would result in a 30% reduction in cases of Alzheimer’s. How can do better. For example , a small study in Finland of 385 people found that those who ate the healthiest diet, 14 years later, had an 88% decreased risk of developing dementia and a 92% decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. [M. Eskelinen et al., Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord Extra 2011].
When you take the Cognitive Function Test you also complete a Dementia Risk Index questionnaire which will assess how you are doing on these eight factors using a traffic light rating. If you score 100% you’re doing everything ‘wrong’ that will increase your risk. If you score 0% you are doing everything you can to reduce your risk. Here’s an example result:
The goal, therefore, is to get each of the 8 domains into the green. By joining COG-NITION, which is a personalised, interactive process, we help you in very practical ways get all your domains into green in order to dementia-proof your diet and lifestyle. Our commissioned research at the University College London on those taking the Cognitive Function Test shows that even those who indicated that they had circumstances which preventing them from making the suggested changes still made positive changes. We used that research, however, to upgrade and build COG-NITION which launches in November. By taking the Cognitive Function Test you are helping us research what really works for Alzheimer’s prevention so we can share it with others. We fund all this from monthly £5 donations of Friends of Food for the Brain or COGNITION participants (£5 a month or £50 a year). We have no commercial or conflicts of interest. We are a not-for-profit educational charity promoting mental health through optimum nutrition and lifestyle and greatly appreciate your support.
The evidence for the 8 domains of Alzheimer’s prevention are shown by selecting the domain below:
Low Carb and GL – Eat a low Glycemic Load (GL) diet
Brain Fats Up Brain fats – Omega-3, Phospholipids & vitamin D
B vitamins – Keep Your Homocysteine Low with B vitamins
Antioxidants – Eat and Drink Anti-Ageing Antioxidants & Polyphenols
Healthy Gut – A Healthy Gut is a Healthy Brain
Active Body – Exercise and Keep Physically Active
Active Mind – Keep Yourself Socially and Intellectually Active
Sleep & Calm -Sleep Well, Stay Calm and Live Purposefully
Food for the Brain is a non-for-profit educational and research charity that offers a free Cognitive Function Test and assesses your Dementia Risk Index to be able to advise you on how to dementia-proof your diet and lifestyle.
By completing the Cognitive Function Test you are joining our grassroots research initiative to find out what really works for preventing cognitive decline. We share our ongoing research results with you to help you make brain-friendly choices.
Please support our research by becoming a Friend of Food for the Brain.