Income, Diet, Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease begins decades before first symptoms appear. There is no cure for this devastating neurodegenerative disease. In such situation modification of modifiable risk factors many years before disease begins is only rational strategy for reducing the impact of this disease on society. The question appears what can be modified? It is clear now that in order to slow down the course of the disease three types of activity: mental, physical and social along with healthy diet are necessary. How early should we start prophylaxis? In our paper entitled “Correlation of Alzheimer’s disease death rates with historical per capita personal income in the USA” authored by Stępkowski D., Woźniak G., Studnicki M. PLOS One 2015 (on the blog) we found that early periods of life are the most important for the susceptibility to this disease in late age. The susceptibility depends on per capita income, a rough measure of healthiness of a life style. We found that people in higher income groups are less sensitive to this disease. It can be explained by better life style including diet. It means that these social groups are more likely to adapt all the mentioned activities and they also most probably have higher educational attainment and therefore build so called “cognitive reserve” not mention healthier diet. Cognitive reserve is our capital for late age. In our second paper by Studnicki M., Woźniak G., Stępkowski D. entitled “The Calculator of Anti-Alzheimer’s Diet. Macronutrients” PLOS One 2016 (also on the blog) we calculated the macronutrient content of a diet which would be a prophylactic solution for Alzheimer’s. This predicted diet is specific for a period of life and different for youth, early midlife, late midlife and late age. Specifically we predict for late age higher total fat intake, less protein and carbohydrates intake than the American population have eaten. For exact values I refer the reader to the original paper. One can ask what can be the effect of shifting the consumption to these predicted diets. It has been calculated that modifiable risk factors account for about one third of Alzheimer’s Disease cases. So we can expect that effect of diet will be contained in these 33%. With 5 million cases of Alzheimer’s in the USA reducing new cases by one third would have very important positive impact on the society.

Dariusz Stępkowski

Leaflet from Alzheimer Society Canada

You can do something to lower the risk no matter your age.  Making simple lifestyle changes may help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. On top of that, they help maintain good brain health as you age and help you reduce your risk of other diseases too!
Whether you’re living with dementia or interested in prevention, here are 5 ways to be good to your brain:
#1. Challenge yourself

“I decided to be proactive about my health after my diagnosis. I took up archery because it requires a lot of focus and concentration. It helps with hand-eye coordination and keeps my mind sharp.”
– Phyllis Fehr, living with Alzheimer’s

Challenging your mind can improve your brain health by helping it to maintain connections and even build new ones. Studies show that keeping your brain active can help reduce your risk of dementia. Stimulate your brain >

#2. Be socially active

“After my diagnosis, I realized the healthiest thing for me was to live life to the fullest. I still love making greeting cards, collecting recipes, reading, and attending dances and events. Getting out and staying socialized is so important for people with dementia.”– Bea Kraayenhof, living with frontotemporal dementia

Staying social helps you stay connected mentally. Research shows that regularly interacting with others may help reduce your risk of dementia. Social activity also helps people with dementia to continue to engage and feel fulfilled, improving their quality of life. Stay social >

#3. Follow a healthy diet

“As a busy mom of two, it’s important that my family eats nutritious meals and that I do too. I bring my lunch to work each day along with one of my favourite snacks –plain yogurt and granola – to beat that mid-afternoon sugar craving.”
– Nalini Sen, Director of the Alzheimer Society Research Program

Healthy eating can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. But did you know that these conditions also increase your risk of dementia? Healthy food choices not only improve your general health, but in the long-term help maintain brain function and slow memory decline. Eat healthy >

#4. Be physically active

“Keeping busy has helped me to adjust to life with dementia. I walk up to 15 kilometers a day in warmer weather. I also spend a lot of time writing. Four years after my diagnosis, I published my first book. Now I’m working on my second.”
– Paul Lea, living with vascular dementia

People who exercise regularly are less likely to develop heart disease, stroke and diabetes, which are all associated with an increased risk of dementia. Physical activity also pumps blood to the brain, which nourishes the cells with nutrients and oxygen, and may even encourage new cells. As well, regular exercise helps to reduce stress and improve your mood. Get active >

#5. Reduce stress

“As my mom’s caregiver, letting go of expectations I had of her – and of myself – has helped reduce stress for both of us. As long as she’s happy, I don’t get caught up in how things should be or how she should behave. I respect my own limitations, too, and make time for myself. Whether it’s reading a book, playing trivia, or petitioning for a national dementia strategy, keeping my brain active helps me cope with the everyday realities of Alzheimer’s.”
– Cathy Grand, caregiver for her mother

Experiencing some stress is part of everyday life, but when it persists over time, it can cause vascular changes and chemical imbalances that are damaging to the brain and other cells in your body. By managing or lowering your stress, you can improve your brain health and reduce your risk of dementia. Lower your stress >

BONUS: #6. Learn the warning signs

“While there are certain things you can do to reduce your risk, there is no guarantee that dementia can be prevented. Early diagnosis is key to living well with dementia, and recognizing the warning signs is essential to obtaining an early diagnosis.”
– Mimi Lowi-Young, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Canada

According to Nanos research, 59 per cent of Canadians engage in activities to keep their brain healthy and reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s, yet their understanding of the warning signs is low. Can you name the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s? Learn the 10 warning signs >

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Low vitamin D levels linked to increased risk of dementia

A study on 1658 participants showed that people with low levels of vitamin D have about twice higher risk of developing dementia.

Vitamin D and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease

An information about how to maintain proper serum witamin D levels  can be found here:

Have a good night! – new meaning for patients suffering from Alzheimer?s disease

Journal Club 2014.11.21

Everyone realizes how important a well sleep is for a proper functioning on the next day. When we are young we deal with the lack of sleep much better than the elderly people. Patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) usually are characterised by a very disturbed rhythm of sleep and awake periods. Melatonin ? a hormone which is produced at night and which secretion is hampered by the daylight is the main regulator of the sleep-awake rhythm of our body ? so called circardian rythm. The level of melatonin reaches highest levels during the night time when we are not introduced to light. Artificial light may disturb melatonin secretion and may make falling asleep harder. The levels of melatonin are probably generally lowered in AD patients. Group of researchers from Great Britain, the USA and Israel head by Alan Wade (Clin Interv Aging, 2014) asked a question whether supplementing melatonin in the form of the medicine – containing the melatonin, prolonged release tablets would improve the condition of AD patients. Six-months clinical study performed by this team, while maintaining all methodological standards of clinical trials, showed that, examined patients divided into two groups: first receiving the standard AD therapy with inhibitors of the acetylcholinesterase, without or with memantine and obtaining placebo, and second analogous group but receiving melatonin instead of placebo. Patients from placebo group were worse in cognitive tests and tests of the activities of everyday life, and were also characterized by an inferior quality of the sleep in comparison to the melatonin group receiving the melatonin prolonged-release tablets (1 tablet, 2 mg per day, 2 hours before sleep). Significant difference between these two groups of patients (total 80 patients) is pointing to a positive effect of the supplemented melatonin on the restoration of the better day-night rhythm. Perhaps also to the negative influence of disturbances of this rhythm on the process of the progression of cognition decay. One may say, that everyone is a “cyclist” and restoring the appropriate twenty-four hours sleep-awake cycle, at least partially, helps to maintain health.

DS, language edited by Tomasz Stępkowski

What oils should we use preparing food?

Looking for useful infos about comparison of variety of cooking oils I came across the blog run by Andrew  Wilder and found cooking oil comparison chart. It is really worth recommendation. This handy chart which you can print from pdf file, available under the link below, is very helpful in making proper oil choices for dressing, baking, frying etc.


Omega 3 Fatty Acids: How Much is Enough?

From University of Maryland, Medical Center

Omega-3 fatty acids


Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: They are necessary for human health but the body can?t make them — you have to get them through food. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, other seafood including algae and krill, some plants, and nut oils. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. They have also become popular because they may reduce the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon) at least 2 times a week.

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.

It is important to have the proper ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 (another essential fatty acid) in the diet. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and most omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. The typical American diet tends to contain 14 – 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, which many nutritionally oriented physicians consider to be way too high on the omega-6 side.

The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, has a healthier balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Many studies have shown that people who follow this diet are less likely to develop heart disease. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, garlic, as well as moderate wine consumption.


Clinical evidence is strongest for heart disease and problems that contribute to heart disease, but omega-3 fatty acids may also be used for:

More under the link below,


Vitamin D: How Much is Enough

From Harvard Public Health Review:

While vitamin D?s role in strengthening bones is well established, its links to cancer and immune-system malfunctions have only recently emerged. At the Harvard School of Public Health, nutrition experts say large segments of the population don?t get enough vitamin D and are urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to raise the daily recommended dose, from 400 international units to 800. For an update on what?s known so far about this important nutrient, the Harvard Public Health Review spoke with HSPH Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology Edward Giovannucci.

Q: What are the documented benefits of vitamin D?

A: Vitamin D?s best-known role is in building strong bones. We?ve seen plenty of advertising urging people to take calcium to strengthen bones, but people also need to know that calcium can?t do the job well if they?re low on vitamin D. The two micronutrients work

More under the link below,


Adopt Brain-Healthy diet

From Alzheimer’s Association

According to the most current research, a brain-healthy diet is one that reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, encourages good blood flow to the brain, and is low in fat and cholesterol. Like the heart, the brain needs the right balance of nutrients, including protein and sugar, to function well. A brain-healthy diet is most effective when combined with physical and mental activity and social interaction.

More under the link below,

The ?molecular memory? – a key player in the development of Alzheimer`s disease – guilty or not?

Is it possible that memories from the past could decrease our current ability to memorize? Yes they could when it comes to the so called ?molecular memory?

Apart from the memory, that we all know that is used by our mind and negatively influenced by Alzheimer Disease and without which we are not able to deal with daily life activities there are also other types of memory. The process of constant hallmarking of nucleic acids and proteins by small biochemical marks can be described as a so called ?molecular memory?. This kind of marking regulates the processes of gene expression and function of various proteins and is directly influenced by the metabolic status of the organism and stimuli from inside and outside of the organism at different stages of development. When this kind of molecular marking is working well it supports our abilities to accommodate to constantly changing environmental conditions and so reassemble the fundament of health. So one can say that expressions ?bad and good memories? could mean also something deeper than what we understand from colloquial language.
?Molecular Memory? has its own timing – it could be very short or long lasting, existing from millisecond intervals to even a few human generations. In simple terms one can say that our cells partially remember, for example the diet habits of our parents or even grandparents especially when it comes to prenatal life. The so called epigenetic profile, is a part of this ?molecular memory? and can be influenced or colloquially speaking ?remember? the bad diet habits of our ancestors. This ?bad molecular memory? in consequence could lead to health problems. It is highly plausible that the widespread increase in civilization diseases like Alzheimer`s may be linked to: the radical lifestyle changes, diet changes being most important, of our grandparents and parents generations and the impact of two world wars. Life style changes that might have been important in that case were: decrease in physical activities, the consumption of industry made food, substitution of social communication by electronic communication and decrease in active social interactions by widespread flow of passively ?ingested? information. On the other hand wars were characterized by the times of under nutrition and severe stress. All of those conditions may or might negatively influence the molecular memory and lead to health problems among individuals from the present generations or, by influencing the germ cells, the health of their descendants.
To invert the molecular foundations mediating the increase in the incidence of civilization diseases, possibly caused by changes in the life style, PAMAT strategy could be used. This strategy is nothing more than the combination of three types of activities: physical, intellectual and social together with maintaining proper dietary habits. All of those activities could at least partially erase the bad molecular marks imprinted in our molecular memory and to some extent bring back health.
Concluding, one can state that, what our cells ?remember? from the past negative stimuli, that influenced our and our ancestors organisms, may have effects on our present intellectual abilities to memorize. This process is becoming apparent especially in the elderly people. The open question is how strong might have the bad stimulus been to influence our ?molecular memory? so strong that it left an imprint on our health and what is the individual vulnerability of particular people? Those questions are directly related to another one: how strong should the positive stimulants of the PAMAT strategy be to substitute the molecular burden of ?bad memories? by a ?healthy marks?.
Dariusz Stępkowski
English translation and edition by Tomasz Stępkowski

We are what we eat

We are what we eat – the influence of the diet on cognitive abilities and the memory
Journal Club 2014.07.01

Everyone will agree with the statement, that the healthy diet is supporting keeping for a long time good physical and intellectual fitness. However when we are reach the point of defining what the healthy diet is, it turns out , that the devil’s is in the details. Generally, the general view is that the proper diet should provide us with all needed macro and micro components of diet and in the appropriate amounts and proportions. When it comes to determination what amounts and proportion are appropriate it is nowadays a mess. When we think about keeping the mind fitness along with the ageing and about the influence of our dietetic habits on brain aging helpful are epidemiological studies showing positive impact of some diet components on the health of the brain. Among others: folic acid, beta-carotene, vitamin D3, omega-3 acids, vitamin B12 are showing positive correlations with mind fitness. Recently a positive effect of these components was confirmed in examinations with brain imaging techniques in order to detect deposits of beta-amyloid – a marker of the Alzheimer’s disease and the activity of the brain associated with the glucose usage as energy source – a marker of brain fitness. Research team led by Lisa Mosconi (Mosconi et al. BMJ Open, 2014, 4,) examined 49 healthy volunteers in New York from a high-risk group of falling ill with the Alzheimer’s disease. Volunteers filled in the dietary questionnaire based on habits of eating certain foods. Consumption of individual components of diet was calculated. Researchers examined how higher consumption of determined components influences the level of deposits of the beta-amyloid and the metabolism of the glucose in the brains of persons not showing signs of disease. Persons who had the best use of the glucose had increased consumption of folic acid and beta-carotene. Higher consumption of vitamin D, vitamin B12 and omega-3 acids correlated with the smaller content of beta-amyloid plaques in brains of participants in the study. It is an important conclusion from these examinations, that mentioned ingredients had a positive effect on the brain when came from the eaten food rather than supplements. These preliminary results call for undertaking further long-term research on the larger group of persons, in which a positive effect of these diet components will be confirmed and perhaps of other diet components which weren’t still taken into account. This observation is unusually significant for drawing up accurate guidelines for composing the anti-Alzheimer?s diet which appears as one of the most effective ways of the prevention of this illness and other forms of dementia.