An investigation into a seminal 2006 study on Alzheimer’s disease has raised questions about its validity. An analysis of the brain images used in the study suggests they may have been doctored, according to a 2022 article in the journal Science. The original 2006 study claimed its images showed that the accumulation of an amyloid-beta protein in the brain was associated with memory impairment in mouse models with Alzheimer’s disease.
The findings in the 2006 paper laid the foundation for the hypothesis that amyloid-beta causes brain cells to die in people with Alzheimer’s. If the theory is wrong, it means that tens of millions of dollars spent on research to find drugs that fight amyloid-beta may have been wasted. This is disheartening news considering that over 6 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and that by 2050 this number is expected to triple.
However, it is a reminder of what we at Sundardas Naturopathic Clinic have been saying for decades: Alzheimer’s is a lifestyle disease. Scientists will never find a single pill or vaccine to reverse memory loss because it has too many causes. Yet, there are many daily habits you can start doing NOW to improve your memory and reduce your risk for dementia.
Scientists will never find a single pill or vaccine to reverse memory loss because it has too many causes. Yet, there are many daily habits you can start doing NOW to improve your memory and reduce your risk for dementia.
12 daily habits to Improve memory and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
1. Exercise to boost blood flow to the brain
Healthy blood flow is critical to a good memory. On SPECT scans, low blood flow is the #1 brain imaging predictor of Alzheimer’s. To improve blood flow, be sure to include physical activity in your day. For example, walk at a fast pace—like you’re late for an appointment—for 30 to 45 minutes.
2. Learn something new
Getting older is the primary risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. To keep your brain from aging too rapidly, make it a point to learn something new no matter how old you are. For example, learn to play a musical instrument, learn a foreign language, or take ballroom dancing lessons.
3. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
Chronic inflammation damages the brain and increases the risk of dementia. Eliminate pro-inflammatory foods from your diet, such as sugar, fast food, and vegetable oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Stick with anti-inflammatory foods like salmon which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, green leafy vegetables, and avocados.
4. Know your family history
There is a genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Make it a priority to find out if your grandparents or parents developed Alzheimer’s.
5. Protect your head
A wealth of scientific research shows that traumatic brain injuries—even mild head trauma that doesn’t cause you to black out—raises the risk of developing dementia. Avoid activities that put you at risk for head injuries, wear a helmet when riding a bike, hold the handrail when going down stairs, and work on your balance to avoid falls.
6. Ditch alcohol
Excessive drinking is linked with memory problems and dementia. In a 43-year follow-up study of more than 12,000 people, moderate-to-heavy drinkers had a 57% higher risk of dementia compared with non-drinkers and light drinkers—and they developed it at a younger age. Protect your memory by avoiding alcohol.
7. Get treated for psychiatric issues
Mental health issues, such as depression and ADD/ADHD, are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If you have depressive symptoms, or you struggle with focus and attention, it’s important to seek professional help. The brain imaging work at Amen Clinics shows that psychiatric conditions are not single or simple issues. They all have different types. Brain imaging can help identify your type, so you can get the targeted treatment you need.
8. Boost your immune system
Research following the pandemic shows that people with long COVID are more likely to suffer from memory problems and brain fog. More investigation is needed on the consequences of COVID infection on the future development of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. In a 2016 editorial in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 33 scientists expressed concern that infectious diseases were being overlooked as a major cause of memory problems and dementia.
9. Balance your hormones
Hormonal imbalances have been linked to an increased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Abnormal hormone levels are also linked to a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, and depression—all of which are also associated with higher odds of Alzheimer’s disease.
10. Maintain a healthy weight and blood sugar level
Being obese or having diabetes makes you more likely to have memory problems. Abnormal insulin levels, a symptom seen in diabetes, has been tied to cognitive decline but not to the accumulation of amyloid-beta proteins in the brain, according to findings in a 2021 study in Diagnosis, Assessment, & Disease Monitoring. The authors of a study on insulin problems and Alzheimer’s in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease say the link between the two conditions is so strong, that they propose calling Alzheimer’s “type 3 diabetes.”
11. Get adequate sleep
While you’re sleeping, your brain performs important tasks, such as removing detritus that builds up during the day (similar to taking out the trash). If you don’t get enough rest at night, your brain can’t perform these vital functions. A lack of sleep makes you more likely to have memory problems, according to a study in Nature Reviews: Neurology. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
12. Explore brain training and neurofeedback apps
Brain training and neurofeedback have been increasingly found to be useful to help train the brain and support and enhance areas of your brain that need more support.
Memory loss and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Sundardas Naturopathic Clinic, we’re here for you.
Prof Sundardas D Annamalay
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