Physical exercise prevents dementia: Research

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There is no alternative to exercise. (Source: File Photo)

Regular physical exercise not only enhances fitness but also has a positive impact on brain metabolism, researchers say. The findings showed that physical activity prevented an increase in choline — a macronutrient that’s important for liver function, normal brain development, nerve function, muscle movement, supporting energy levels and maintaining a healthy metabolism.

The concentration of this metabolite often rises as a result of the increased loss of nerve cells, which typically occurs in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, said Johannes Pantel, Professor at the Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany. In the study, physical exercise led to stable cerebral choline concentrations in the training group, whereas choline levels increased in the control group. The participants’ physical fitness also improved and they showed increased cardiac efficiency after the training period.

Overall, these findings suggest that physical exercise not only improves physical fitness but also protects cells. To understand the positive influence of physical activity on the brain, gerontologists and sports physicians examined the effects of regular exercise on brain metabolism and memory of participants aged between 65 and 85 on movement-related parameters, cardiopulmonary fitness and cognitive performance.

The participants were asked to mount an exercise bike three times a week over a period of 12 weeks for 30-minute training sessions.Magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) were used to measure brain metabolism and brain structure. The results showed that regular physical exercise seems beneficial in the prevention of cognitive impairment and dementia in old age.

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Mediterranean style diet may prevent dementia

The Mediterranean diet is easy to find in the grocery store, contains nutrients that are known to enhance longevity and has other health benefits that are backed by peer-reviewed, scientific studies. Broccoli makes the list because it's one of nature's most nutrient-dense foods, with only 30 calories per cup. That means you get a ton of hunger-curbing fiber and polyphenols -- antioxidants that detoxify cell-damaging chemicals in your body -- with each serving.

(CNN)Meals from the sunny Mediterranean have been linked to stronger bones, a healthier heart and longer life, along with a reduced risk for diabetes and high blood pressure.

Now you can add lowering your risk for dementia to the ever growing list of reasons to follow the Mediterranean diet or one of its dietary cousins.
New research being presented at the International Alzheimer’s Association conference in London this week found healthy older adults who followed the Mediterranean or the similar MIND diet lowered their risk of dementia by a third.
Mediterranean diet linked to lower risk of heart attack, stroke

Mediterranean diet linked to lower risk of heart attack, stroke
“Eating a healthy plant-based diet is associated with better cognitive function and around 30% to 35% lower risk of cognitive impairment during aging,” said lead author Claire McEvoy, of the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine.
McEvoy stressed that because the study was conducted in a nationally representative older population “the findings are relevant to the general public.”
“While 35% is a greater than expected decrease for a lifestyle choice, I am not surprised,” said Rudolph Tanzi, who directs the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and recently co-authored a book with Deepak Chopra on genes and aging called “Super Genes.”
“The activity of our genes is highly dependent on four main factors: diet, exercise, sleep and stress management,” said Tanzi, who was not involved in the study. “Of these, perhaps diet is most important.”
Eating the Mediterranean diet may lead to a longer life
McEvoy’s study investigated at the eating habits of nearly 6,000 older Americans with an average age of 68. After adjusting for age, gender, race, low educational attainment and lifestyle and health issues — such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, depression, smoking and physical inactivity — researchers found that those who followed the MIND or Mediterranean diet had a 30% to 35% lower risk of cognitive impairment.
The more people stayed on those diets, said McEvoy, the better they functioned cognitively.
Those who marginally followed the diet also benefited, but by a much smaller margin. They were 18% less likely to exhibit signs of cognitive impairment.

What are the Mediterranean and MIND diets?

Forget lasagne, pizza, spanakopita and lamb souvlaki — they are not on the daily menu of those who live by the sunny Mediterranean seaside.
The true diet is simple, plant-based cooking, with the majority of each meal focused on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, with a few nuts and a heavy emphasis on extra virgin olive oil. Say goodbye to refined sugar or flour and fats other than olive oil, such as butter, are consumed rarely, if at all.
Meat can make a rare appearance, but usually only to flavor a dish. Instead, meals may include eggs, dairy and poultry, but in much smaller portions than in the traditional Western diet. Fish, however, are a staple.
The MIND diet takes the best brain foods of the Mediterranean diet and the famous salt-reducing DASH diet, and puts them together. MIND encourages a focus on eating from 10 healthy food groups while rejecting foods from five unhealthy groups.
MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, with DASH standing for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
MIND was developed by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center in the US.
Is the Mediterranean diet good for kids, too?

Is the Mediterranean diet good for kids, too?
Those who follow MIND reject butter and stick margarine, red meats, cheeses, fried or fast food and sweets. Instead, they eat at least six servings a week of green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale, and at least one serving a day of another vegetable. Three servings a day of whole grains are a must.
They also add in at least three servings of beans, two or more servings of berries, two servings of chicken or turkey, and once serving of fish each week. Olive oil is their main cooking ingredient, and they drink a glass of wine a day.
Morris has some powerful stats behind her diet.
In 2015, she studied 923 Chicago-area seniors and found those who say they followed the diet religiously had a 53% lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s, while those who followed it moderately lowered their risk by about 35%. Follow-up observational studies showed similar benefits.
Morris and her colleagues are currently recruiting volunteers for a three-year clinical study to try to prove the link.

Additional evidence

A second study presented at the conference also examined the impact of the MIND diet. Researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine followed 7,057 women, average age 71, over almost 10 years and found those who most closely followed the MIND diet had a 34% reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
High-fat Mediterranean diet, not low-fat one, is how you lose weight

High-fat Mediterranean diet, not low-fat one, is how you lose weight
A third study at the conference looked at the dietary habits of 2,223 dementia-free Swedish adults over six years who followed the Nordic Prudent Dietary Pattern (NPDP) diet, which avoids sweets and fatty and processed foods. Instead, the diet emphasizes eating non-root vegetables, apple/pears/peaches, pasta/rice, poultry, fish, vegetable oils, tea and water, and light to moderate wine intake.
Swedes who stuck to the diet at a moderate or higher level preserved their cognitive function better than those who ate more processed and fatty foods.
Lastly, a fourth study examined MRI brain scans of 330 cognitively normal adults, with an average age of 79, and found eating foods that raise inflammation in the body — such as sweets, processed foods and fried and fatty foods — raised the risk for a shrinking “aging” brain and lower cognitive function.
That comes as no surprise to neurologist Rudy Tanzi.
“Foods that keep blood pressure normal, provide us with antioxidants, and maintain healthy bacteria in our gut, or microbiome, will serve to help keep chronic inflammation in check in the brain and entire body,” said Tanzi.
Despite the similarities of the results, experts point out that all of this research is observational, meaning that it is based on reports by individuals as to what they eat. To prove the connection between diet and dementia risk, said McEvoy, researchers will need to move to scientifically controlled experiments.
“I think the studies, taken together, suggest a role for high quality dietary patterns in brain health and for protection against cognitive decline during aging,” said McEvoy. “Diet is modifiable, and in light of these studies we need clinical trials to test whether changing diet can improve or maintain cognition.”
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Until that definite proof is available, say experts, there’s no harm in using this information to makes changes in your diet and lifestyle that could help protect your brain.
“Although the idea that a healthy diet can help protect against cognitive decline as we age is not new, the size and length of these four studies demonstrate how powerful good dietary practices may be in maintaining brain health and function,” said Keith Fargo, Alzheimer’s Association Director of Scientific Programs and Outreach.
Tanzi agrees. “It’s about time we started placing a greater emphasis on what we eat as we strive to have our ‘healthspan’ keep up with our increasing ‘lifespan’.”
[“Source-edition”]

Eat mushrooms to prevent risk of Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease

ANI | Jan 25, 2017, 04.30 PM IST

 

<p>Eat mushrooms to prevent risk of Dementia, Alzheimer's disease<br></p>Eat mushrooms to prevent risk of Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease

According to researchers, certain edible and medicinal mushrooms contain bioactive compounds that may enhance nerve growth in the brain and protect against neurotoxic stimuli such as inflammation that contribute to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, published in Journal of Medicinal Food supports the potential role of mushrooms as functional foods to reduce or delay development of age-related neurodegeneration.

The researchers from University of Malaya in Malaysia discussed the scientific findings related to the health benefits of edible and culinary mushrooms.

It is estimated that as many as 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and, worldwide, 42 million cases are expected by 2020.

Despite the advancement of medication, the management of these diseases has remained largely ineffective.

The authors focus on the activity of bioactive components of mushrooms that may offer neuroprotective and cognitive benefits.

“In contrast to the body of literature on food ingredients that may benefit cardiometabolic diseases and cancer, very few studies have focused on food that may benefit neurodegenerative diseases,” explained study author Sampath Parthasarathy from University of Central Florida.

They found that each mushroom increased production of the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) – a molecule primarily involved in regulating growth, maintenance, proliferation and survival of certain nerve cells in the brain.

“The current study might stimulate the identification of more food materials that are neuroprotective,” Parthasarathy added.

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Hypertension in late life may prevent dementia

Hypertension in late life may prevent dementia (Robert Llewellyn/Getty Images)Hypertension in late life may prevent dementia (Robert Llewellyn/Getty Images)
Individuals who develop high blood pressure at the age 80 or older – known as the ‘oldest old’ – may have decreased risk of dementia after age 90, a study has found.

Hypertension and other heart health risk factors are generally thought to increase dementia risk.

“The study found that hypertension is not a risk factor for dementia in people age 90 or over, but is actually associated with reduced dementia risk,” said lead author Maria Corrada, Professor at the University of California, Irvine.

The results revealed that participants who reported hypertension onset at age 80 to 89 were 42 per cent less likely to develop dementia after age 90 compared to those who reported no history of high blood pressure.

Participants whose hypertension began at age 90 or older were at even lower risk – 63 per cent less likely to develop dementia.

Dementia risk declined as hypertension severity increased – a trend consistent with the idea that, in this age group, hypertension may protect the brain from insults that lead to dementia, the researchers observed.

Blood pressure may need to reach a certain level to maintain adequate blood flow in the brain for normal cognition, and that this level may change with age, the researchers explained as the potential reasons for the association between hypertension and dementia risk.

Another possible reason may be that the blood pressure drops before the onset of dementia as a consequence of brain cell deterioration, and thus older people who are not developing dementia will have higher blood pressure.

The results were published online in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association

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Get off that couch to beat dementia: Experts to older folks

Sedentary older adults with no genetic risk factors for dementia may be just as likely to develop the disease as those who are genetically predisposed, researchers, including one of Indian origin, have warned.

The study , which followed more than 1,600 Canadians over five years, sheds new light on the relationship between genes, lifestyle risk factors and dementia.

Researchers also found out that while the carriers of a variant of the `apolipo protein E’ genotype are more likely to develop dementia, inactivity dramatically increases the risk for non-carriers. “The important message here is that being inactive may completely negate the protective effects of a healthy set of genes,“ said Jennifer Heisz, assistant professor at McMaster University, Canada.

“Given that most individuals are not at genetic risk, physical exercise may be an effective prevention strategy,“ she added. About 47.5 million people worldwide suffer from dementia. The number is expected to surge to 115.4 million by 2050, the researchers said. With no known cure, there is an urgent need to explore, identify and change lifestyle factors that can reduce dementia risk, they added.

“This research shows that exercise can mitigate the risk of dementia for people without the variant of the apolipo protein genotype. However, more research is needed to determine the implications from a public health perspective,“ said Parminder Raina from McMaster

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Prostate Cancer Treatment May Double Dementia Risk: Study

Prostate Cancer Treatment May Double Dementia Risk: StudyWASHINGTON:  Men with prostate cancer who are treated with testosterone-lowering drugs are twice as likely to develop dementia within five years as those whose hormone levels are not tampered with, researchers including one of Indian origin have found.

Testosterone can promote the growth of prostate tumours, and so clinicians have used androgen deprivation therapy to lower testosterone and other androgens in prostate cancer patients since the 1940s.

The team at the Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania in the US looked at deidentified records for nearly 10,000 patients with prostate cancer.

Out of the 1,829 who received androgen deprivation therapy, 7.9 per cent developed dementia within five years, compared with 3.5 per cent of those not treated with ADT.

“The risk is real and depending on the prior dementia history of the patient we may want to consider alternative treatment, particularly in light of recent study,” said Nigam Shah, associate professor at Stanford.

The study tells that prostate cancer patients randomised to either active monitoring, surgery or radiation therapy all had the same risk of death from the cancer after 10 years.

Ninety-nine per cent of men in the study survived regardless of initial treatment. These startling results suggest that active monitoring of prostate cancer patients may be as good as early radical treatment and may cause fewer side effects.The actual number of patients possibly at risk for dementia from androgen deprivation therapy is small, it makes sense when weighing the value of prescribing ADT to try to identify which prostate cancer patients might be vulnerable to dementia, said Shah.

The study adds to a growing body of evidence supporting Stanford Medicine’s precision health approach, the goal of which is to anticipate and prevent disease in the healthy and precisely diagnose and treat disease in the ill.

“I was surprised at how ubiquitous the effects on all types of dementia were, but I would definitely not alter clinical care based on our results,” said lead author Kevin Nead, from University of Pennsylvania.

He added that he would like to see a prospective, randomised clinical trial to establish whether ADT can be more firmly linked to an increased risk of dementia and to help identify what kinds of patients might be vulnerable to that increased risk.

He anticipates that checking for dementia risk in people treated with ADT will be part of future randomised, clinical trials that have a larger focus.

The study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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