Research round-up on dementia
How can eating a Mediterranean diet positively impact brain health?
UCLA researchers have found that eating a healthy Mediterranean diet, keeping up regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy BMI all reduce protein build up in the brain, which is commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The Mediterranean diet (which is high on vegetables, beans and whole grains) limits red meat and dairy and is thought to reduce risk for dementia in later life.
Is your blood type linked to your risk of Alzheimer’s?
After studying 30,000 people over a three-and-a-half-year period, US researchers have found that those with a rare AB blood type present a higher risk of memory decline and cognitive impairment.
Those with AB blood types are already identified as being more at risk of cardiovascular disease – and there’s a known connection between this and cognitive impairment, which is why researchers believe this blood type specifically relates to Alzheimer’s.
Although risk factors like blood types can’t be changed, other risk factors for chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s can – and that’s how you could potentially help to reduce your overall risk and stay well. Maintaining a healthy diet, staying physically active and mentally fit are all things within your control.
Breakthrough in treating Alzheimer’s
Australian researchers have uncovered a novel way to treat Alzheimer’s, using non-invasive and inexpensive ultrasound technology.
A potential revolution in Alzheimer’s treatment, Professor Götz from the Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia explains that the ultrasound waves ultimately “remove the amyloid plaques that destroy brain synapses,” adding that it “does fundamentally change our understanding of how to treat this disease.” With further research underway, “human clinical trials are at least two years away,” added Professor Götz.
Is a poor sense of smell a sure sign of Alzheimer’s?
Studies show that beta amyloid proteins (which are a known indication of Alzheimer’s) found in the brain of those with the condition can first accumulate in the areas of the brain which affect the sense of smell. Researchers believe this can sometimes be the first sign of the condition, before any cognitive function is even affected.
Detecting Alzheimer's sooner through retinal imaging
Alzheimer's is typically difficult to diagnose until significant, obvious symptoms start showing. Current treatments either slow progression or maintain symptoms where they are, but the later someone’s diagnosed, the harder it is for these treatment plans to have as much of a positive impact.
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s sooner is the key and, according to research, it seems the eyes may have the answer. Two recent studies show that retinal imaging detects beta-amyloid proteins in the eyes. The levels of these proteins correlated with those present in the brains of participants with Alzheimer’s, meaning that researchers could pinpoint which of the participants had the condition, purely from examining their eyes.
Can better brain health keep Alzheimer’s at bay?
Keeping the brain active and engaged has long been suggested for people already in older age, but researchers now believe that brain exercise in the early and middle years of life can also help to prevent the build-up of beta-amyloid deposits in the brain – a known marker of Alzheimer’s disease.
If you’d like support or further information about dementia, call our 24-hour Advice Line on 1800 639 331.
Words: Ash Anand
Disclaimer: The information provided is a summary only of some of the latest research. AQ does not endorse the contents or accept liability for any error or omission in the contents of this blog and the research discussed.