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:

Sign the Glasgow declaration!

Please sign and share

Today, Alzheimer Europe launches the online sign-up campaign for the Glasgow Declaration, which calls for the creation of a European Dementia Strategy and national strategies in every country in Europe. The signatories also call upon world leaders to recognise dementia as a public health priority and to develop a global action plan on dementia.

The declaration was adopted unanimously by 26 Alzheimer Europe members at the organisation?s Annual Meeting on 20 October 2014 and launched publicly during the Annual Conference which took place in Glasgow from 20 to 22 October 2014.

The online sign-up form on our website, which can be reached by clicking the “Sign” button (top right) is for individuals. If you are a policymaker or represent an organisation and wish to sign the declaration, please use the PDF document available on our website and send it to us by email to

Please share the declaration with your network.

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