The second half of this BBC series pointed out that genes account for less than a quarter of one’s risk. Only 1% of Alzheimer’s is caused by genes, although you can have genes that predispose you to dementia provided for example, you don’t exercise, or smoke. The important point is that 75% of risk is attributed to diet and lifestyle - things you can change.
But what’s the best diet? Inhabitants of the Japanese island of Okinawa are renowned for their longevity. Their diet is very good – high in fish, vegetables and beans, with little meat, no dairy and little wheat. Their diet is especially high in purple sweet potato. The purple sweet potato, rich in anthocyanins that help keep arteries healthy, supple and young. Anthocyanins are especially rich in blueberries, blackcurrants, red cabbage and beetroot. Okinawans also have respect for older people.
In the second half Angela Rippon tested the effects of electrical brain stimulation and it worked. It improved her cognitive abilities. This kind of therapeutic technology may be helpful to people with cognitive dysfunction.
We ended up in California where an old mouse given a blood transfusion from a young mouse. Human studies are underway – that is giving blood of young people, not young mice! Anyway, watch this space. If it works it does beg the question as to what’s in young blood that isn’t in old.
However, all of this pales into insignificance compared to the results of something much simpler, and already proven to arrest further brain degeneration and memory loss in those with pre-dementia. That is giving relatively high dose B6, B12 and folate to those with raised blood homocysteine (above 10mcmol/l) and ensuring sufficient omega-3 fats. To read more about this ground-breaking research that is, remarkably, being ignored, no doubt because nutrients are not patentable, and hence not profitable visit http://www.foodforthebrain.org/alzheimers-prevention.aspx.