Category Archives: Dementia

High-Intensity Interval Training May Prevent Dementia

Steve Parker MD

A slow leisurely pace won’t cut it

Dementia is a devastating and expensive development for an individual and his family. Most dementias are progressive and incurable. If it can be prevented, it should be. Exercise is one preventative. But how much and what kind of exercise?

Nine percent of U.S. adults over 65 have dementia. That’s 3.650,000 folks. The initial clue to incipient dementia is usually memory impairment.

From The Globe and Mail:

In 2017, a team led by the lab’s director, Jennifer Heisz, published a five-year study of more than 1,600 adults older than 65 that concluded that genetics and exercise habits contribute roughly equally to the risk of eventually developing dementia. Only one of those two factors is under your control, so researchers around the world have been striving to pin down exactly what sort of workout routine will best nourish your neurons.

Heisz’s latest study, published last month in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, offers a tentative answer to this much-debated question. Older adults who sweated through 12 weeks of high-intensity interval training improved their performance on a memory test by 30 per cent compared with those who did a more moderate exercise routine.

This was a small study, only about 20 sedentary participants (all over 60 years old) subjected to one of three protocols for twelve weeks, exercising thrice weekly:

  1. Four-minute bouts of vigorous treadmill walking at 90-95% of maximum heart rate, repeated four times, with three minutes easy walking between the high-intensity spells intervals (HIIT)
  2. Walking at 70-75% of max heart rate for 47 minutes (burning the same number of calories as group #1
  3. Thirty minutes of relaxed stretching

Alex Hutchinson’s full article is well worth a couple minutes of your time if you want to avoid dementia.

Source: New study shows the right workout routine can help fight dementia – The Globe and Mail

Most experts agree that diabetes is a risk factor for dementia, and the Mediterranean diet helps prevent it.

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Click the pic to purchase at Amazon.com. E-book versions also available at Smashwords.com.

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Can Diet Alter Your Gut Bacteria and Thereby Lower Your Risk of Dementia?

The short answer? We don’t know.

Low-carb salad

The gut bacteria (aka microbiome) seem to be able to decrease or increase inflammation that could cause or exacerbate Alzheimer’s dementia. The  microbiome’s effect on inflammation depends on the species of bacteria present, and the amount of those bacteria. At least one study found that Alzheimer’s patients have a greater abundance of the pro-inflammatory species and less of the anti-inflammatory species, compared to other folks.

Researchers with Wake Forest School of Medicine tried to find answers to the questions in the title of this post. (Click for full text.) They studied 17 experimental subjects, average age 64, who had mild cognitive impairment (11) or “cogni/subjective memory complaints” (6). God bless them for submitting to three spinal taps apiece. The experimental diets were 1) Mediterranean-Ketogenic (under 20 g carb/day), or 2) Low-fat American Heart Association diet (under 40 g fat/day). Participants were on each diet for six weeks.

The investigators didn’t find anything useful for those of us trying today to avoid Alzheimer’s or prevent the progression of mild cognitive impairment to dementia. Their bottom line is, “The data suggest that specific gut microbial signatures may depict [characterize] the mild cognitive impairment and that the modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet can modulate the gut microbiome and metabolites in association with improved Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid.”

So we won’t know for several more years, if ever, whether intentional modification of diet will “improve” our gut microbiomes, leading to lower risk of dementia.

What we have known for many year, however, is that the traditional Mediterranean diet is linked to lower risk of Alzhiemer’s dementia.

For more details, see Science Daily:

In a small pilot study, the researchers identified several distinct gut microbiome signatures — the chemicals produced by bacteria — in study participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) but not in their counterparts with normal cognition, and found that these bacterial signatures correlated with higher levels of markers of Alzheimer’s disease in the cerebrospinal fluid of the participants with MCI.

Through cross-group dietary intervention, the study also showed that a modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet produced changes in the gut microbiome and its metabolites that correlated with reduced levels of Alzheimer’s markers in the members of both study groups.

Source: Diet’s effect on gut bacteria could play role in reducing Alzheimer’s risk — ScienceDaily

Steve Parker, M.D.

Click the pic to purchase the world’s first practical ketogenic Mediterranean diet at Amazon.com. E-book versions also available at Smashwords.com.

If you own this book, you already have a ketogenic Mediterranean diet.

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Mediterranean Diet and Good Blood Sugar Levels Improve Brain Function in Type 2 Diabetes

MRI scan of brain

From Diabetes Care:

CONCLUSIONS

Both adhering to a Mediterranean diet and effectively managing type 2 diabetes may support optimal cognitive function. Healthy diets, in general, can help improve memory function among adults without type 2 diabetes.

Source: The Mediterranean Diet and 2-Year Change in Cognitive Function by Status of Type 2 Diabetes and Glycemic Control | Diabetes Care

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Click the pic to purchase at Amazon.com. E-book versions also available at Smashwords.com.

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Are Oral Bacteria the Cause of Alzheimer’s Dementia?

Several respected researchers think that Alzheimer’s dementia may primarily be an infectious disease, particularly related to gum bacteria.

From MedScape:

LOS ANGELES — As more disappointing results emerge from anti-amyloid drug trials in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), there is growing interest in novel treatment approaches for this condition.

One such approach is based on the hypothesis that Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg), the bacteria involved in periodontal disease, may cause AD. The biopharmaceutical company Cortexyme Inc is testing this theory with an investigational agent COR388, which targets gingipains, the toxic proteases released by Pg.  Early results show the drug is well tolerated and promising in terms of biomarker findings. Organizers hope that a phase 2/3 trial of the treatment now under way will provide definitive efficacy results.

Source: Gum Disease Bacteria a Novel Treatment Target for Alzheimer’s?

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The Mediterranean diet had been shown to reduce the risk of dementia.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Click the pic to purchase at Amazon.com. E-book versions also available at Smashwords.com.

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Higher HgbA1c Levels Linked to Cognitive Decline Over a Decade

HgbA1c (hemoglobin A1c) is measure of average blood sugar levels over the previous three months. From a 2018 study:

In this community-based population, we observed a significant trend for cognitive decline over a 10 year period among individuals aged ≥50 years with normoglycaemia, prediabetes or diabetes at baseline. Additionally, HbA1c levels were linearly associated with subsequent cognitive decline in memory and executive function (but not orientation) irrespective of diabetes status at baseline.

Source: HbA1c, diabetes and cognitive decline: the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing | SpringerLink

h/t to Jan at The Low-Carb Diabetic

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: You know what else helps prevent cognitive decline? The Mediterranean diet.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Click the pic to purchase at Amazon.com

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World Health Organization Recommends Mediterranean Diet to Reduce Dementia Risk

Steve Parker MD, low-carb diet, diabetic diet

Olives, olive oil, and vinegar: classic Mediterranean foods

Two quotes:

In guidelines released Tuesday, WHO issued its first recommendations to reduce the risk of dementia globally. They include regular physical exercise, not using tobacco, drinking less alcohol, maintaining healthy blood pressure and eating a healthy diet — particularly a Mediterranean one.

***

“The Mediterranean diet is the most extensively studied dietary approach, in general as well as in relation to cognitive function,” the report said. “Several systematic reviews of observational studies have concluded that high adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease, but modest adherence is not.”

Source: New global guidelines to reduce risk of dementia released

Steve Parker, M.D.

Click the pic to purchase at Amazon.com

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Does the Keto Diet Prevent or Treat Alzheimer’s Dementia?

Sunny’s Super Salad

Maybe…we don’t know yet.

Have you noticed references to “keto diet” like there’s only one ketogenic diet? There are many ketogenic diets and some of them are dangerous. When choosing one, at least look for one designed by a registered dietitian or physician.

From a recent scientific article:

Highlights

•Impaired brain glucose metabolism and amyloid β plaques are associated with Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

•Ketones provide an alternative metabolic precursor to glucose in the brain.

•Ketogenic diets likely reduce amyloid plaques and may reverse their neurotoxicity.

•Modern diets high in carbohydrates may contribute to increasing Alzheimer’s incidence.

•The ketogenic diet (including carbohydrate restriction) might be useful in the management of Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: The ketogenic diet as a potential treatment and prevention strategy for Alzheimer’s disease – ScienceDirect

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: If you have Conquer Diabetes and Prediabete,  you already have the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet

Click pic to purchase at Amazon.com

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