Monday, February 26, 2024
Monday, February 26, 2024
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Healthy living can combat cognitive decline even with signs of dementia in the brain, study suggests | cnn


living a healthy life style focusing on a nutritious diet, regular exercise, minimal alcohol consumption and others Healthy habits can help keep the brain alert well into old age, doctors say.

But what if your brain already has signs of beta amyloid or tau — two of the hallmark signs of Alzheimer’s and other brain pathologies? Will a healthy lifestyle continue to protect you from cognitive decline?

The answer is yes, according to observational research that examined the brains of 586 people during autopsies and compared the findings with up to 24 years of data on their lifestyles.

“We found that the lifestyle-cognition association was independent of the pathological burden of Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting that a (healthy) lifestyle can provide cognitive benefits even for people who have begun to accumulate pathologies related to Alzheimer’s disease. dementia in their brains,” senior author Dr. Klodian Dhana, assistant professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago, said by email.

In other words, the study found that the presence of Alzheimer’s or another neurological disorder “didn’t seem to matter; lifestyle changes provided the brain with resilience against some of the most common causes of dementia,” said Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of research. at the Florida Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases.

“It’s like a video game where you shoot monsters,” said Isaacson, who was not involved in the study. “The weapon, the lifestyle changes, was able to defeat ghosts, demons, goblins, vampires and zombies.”

For the study, autopsies were performed on 586 people living in retirement communities, senior housing, and individual residences in the Chicago area who had participated in the study. Rush Memory and Aging Project between 1997 and 2022. The participants, who lived to an average age of 91, underwent regular cognitive and physical testing and completed annual questionnaires about their lifestyles. for more than two decades before he died.

People in the study were categorized as having a healthy or low-risk lifestyle if they scored highest in five different categories: they did not smoke; exercised moderate to vigorously for at least 150 minutes per week; they kept their alcohol consumption to about one drink a day for women and two for men; and they regularly stimulated their brains by reading, visiting museums and playing games such as cards, checkers, crosswords or puzzles.

The fifth category measured how well they followed the Mediterranean Diet-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Retardation or MIND Diet. Developed in 2015 by researchers at Rush University in Chicago, the MIND diet incorporates many of the plant-based Mediterranean diet, which focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, and lots of extra virgin olive oil. Red meat and sweets are rarely eaten, but fish, which is packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, is a staple.

The MIND diet also assimilates elements of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (or DASH) diet. He diet board It focuses on lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and constriction of small blood vessels that can lead to dementia. The standard DASH diet limits salt to 2,300 milligrams per day, less than a teaspoon of table salt.

Kobus Louw/E+/Getty Images

According to experts, eating a plant-based, low-salt diet is good for the brain.

The study team then compared the lifestyle data with several measures of pathology in the brain, including levels of beta-amyloid, tau tangles, and signs of vascular brain damage, or injury to the brain’s small blood vessels. caused by high blood pressure. heart disease and diabetes.

Not all people who have signs of Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia develop cognitive problems, but many do.

The researchers also measured markers of three other brain diseases, including drug-resistant epilepsy, frontotemporal degeneration, and Dementia with Lewy bodiesa neurological disorder that can create problems with behavior, mood, movement, and cognition.

The investigation, published on monday in the journal JAMA Neurology, “is one of the first to leverage brain pathology” from autopsies to investigate the link between modifiable risk factors and cognitive decline, professors Yue Leng and Dr. Kristine Yaffe wrote in an article. . accompanying editorial.

Yaffe, who was not involved in the study, is a professor of psychiatry, neurology and epidemiology at the Weill Institute for Neurosciences at the University of California, San Francisco. Leng, who was also not involved in the study, is an associate professor of psychiatry at the same institution.

For every 1-point increase in the healthy lifestyle score used in the study, there was 0.120 units less beta-amyloid load in the brain and a 0.22 unit higher standardized score on cognitive performance, which was measured by a test of approximately 30 items. which examined attention, memory, language and visuospatial skills.

The cognitive benefits were maintained regardless of the existence of any of the five types of neurological conditions. In fact, “a higher healthy lifestyle score was associated with better cognition even after accounting for the combined burden of brain pathologies,” according to Yaffe and Leng.

More than 88% of a person’s global cognitive score was a “direct association with lifestyle,” they said, leaving just under 12% affected by the presence of beta-amyloid.

As an observational study, it is not possible to prove a direct cause and effect, Yaffe and Leng said. However, the study is “an important step” in understanding ways people can modify their lives to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

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