Today I’m talking about how to reduce your likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s by sharing two studies that recently came across my desk!
The powerful thing about these two studies is that each one of them highlights the deep role that nutrition plays in keeping our brains healthy.
If you care about avoiding cognitive decline and protecting your brain well into your 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond, this newsletter is for you!
Let’s jump right in!
Study 1: Carotenoids, Antioxidants, and Alzheimer’s Disease
The first study we’re highlighting today was published in the prestigious journal Neurology. The study had just over 7,000 participants, all of whom were age 45 at the start of the study. Researchers then followed participants for an average of 16 years to see who developed dementia.
What were the researchers looking for? Researchers were essentially asking the question, do key levels of nutritional biomarkers found in the blood—specifically vitamins A, C, E, and key carotenoids—have an association with a reduction in Alzheimer’s disease and all-cause dementia?
And what did they find? Here’s a quick summary from Science Daily:
“The study found that people with the highest levels of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin in their blood were less likely to develop dementia decades later than people with lower levels of the antioxidants. Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, and peas. Beta-cryptoxanthin is found in fruits such as oranges, papaya, tangerines, and persimmons.”
This study, while it does have some limitations, is a reminder that the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia is heavily connected to lifestyle factors like our diet.
Dr. Dale Bredesen, one of the leading researchers on the Functional Medicine approach to Alzheimer’s said, “The treatment [in this study] isn’t radical, but the results are.”
By the way, Dr. Bredesen has been on my podcast in the past (twice), and his program ReCODE goes much deeper by tackling the major root causes of Alzheimer’s. If you want to go deep into his approach check out his groundbreaking book, The First Survivors of Alzheimer’s: How Patients Recovered Life and Hope in Their Own Words.
The oldest-living people tend to have higher levels of Akkermansia in their gut—and its role in promoting optimal metabolic health and gut health could have a lot to do with that.
Higher levels of Akkermansia are linked to better blood sugar control, weight management, a healthy inflammatory response and can help strengthen the gut lining, supporting various health benefits that rely on a healthy gut barrier.
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Study 2: DHA Levels and Alzheimer’s Disease
The second study, published in the journal Nutrients, takes a deeper look into omega-3 DHA levels in red blood cells and its effect on Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The prospective observational study included just shy of 1,500 dementia-free participants aged at least 65 years who were originally part of the Framingham Offspring Cohort.
In this case, researchers were studying the impact of dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Getting DHA from your diet is super important, because it’s critical for maintaining your blood-brain barrier. And the blood-brain barrier factors into Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia because the breakdown of this barrier is often the first step in developing the disease.
So what did the study find?
The study found that people 65 and over who had high levels of omega-3 DHA in their red blood cells had only around half the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia as those with lower levels.
Wow! Did you read that? Half the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia!
That’s the power of food as medicine. Let’s freaking go!
And get this… for those with high DHA levels who did still eventually get dementia, they staved it off for almost five extra years as compared to the lower-level group.
So who’s ready to starting focusing on raising their omega-3 levels? Well, lucky for you I’ve written a detailed guide on that in the past that you can find right here: Try This: Raise Your Omega-3s.
Alright folks, that’s it for today!