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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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.

Bilingualism is protective against dementia

Journal Club 2014.06.26
Bilingualism is protective against dementia

International team of researchers led by Morris Freedman on 18th of May 2014 published in the Behavioural Neurology findings concerning the influence of the bilingualism on the age of onset of dementia. They conducted research in Toronto and Montreal (Canada) and in Hayderabad (India). The research confirmed prior reports on the protective influence of the bilingualism and demonstrated, that in each of cities group of bilingual people later fell ill with dementia. They also stated that then more languages the patients had used the protective effect was stronger. The long-term parallel use of several languages is probably building so-called cognitive reserve in the brain compensating for losses of efficiency accompanying the ageing process of the brain.