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Get Lean Diet for Men
January 4, 2015
By Joseph Strongoli, Featured Columnist
Do you sometimes forget what you just had for lunch? Men are more at
risk for a form of mild cognitive impairment called "pre-Alzheimer's".
But scientists have found that exercise, certain foods and teas and
brain games can prevent the decline in many cases.
Bones become brittle, and the back hunches, compresses, and shrinks.
Skin loses elasticity, becomes paper thin and nearly as transparent. Hair
turns gray and falls out. So do teeth. Just like the rest of your body,
your brain changes as you get older. And with it, goes the mind. You
lose your train of thought, or the thread of a conversation, a book, or a
movie. You get lost in familiar places. You forget your own name, or
what you just had for lunch. This is the terrifying realm of Alzheimer’s
disease (AD), the place where minds go to die before their time, leaving
the body without a master.
This living death is usually associated with the elderly, whose burned
out brains resemble their broken down bodies: frail, deteriorated,
ravaged by old age.
A new study in 2013 from Newcastle Univeristy in the UK, however,
reports a disturbing trend: the formation of Pre-Alzheimer’s in the
young and in men, a condition known as mild cognitive impairment
(MCI). Patients with MCI develop cognitive impairments akin to
Alzheimer’s disease, but at an age where Alzheimer’s was previously
thought not to tread.
Women still develop full-blown Alzheimer's at higher rates than men
but we're more at risk for the mild cognitive impairment.
What is Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)?
Mild cognitive impairment is also known as incipient dementia, or
isolated memory impairment. It involves the premature onset of
memory impairment, beyond those expected based on the age of the
While your cognitive functions begin to slip with mild cognitive
impairment, these degradations usually aren’t severe enough to
interfere with your day-to-day life. Yet. While some people do break
out of the fog, typically mild cognitive impairment increases your risk of
eventually progressing to dementia.
In fact, mild cognitive impairment is often considered to be a prodromal
(precursor) stage of AD. Studies suggest that people with MCI
progress towards probable AD at a rate of 10%-15% per year.
Symptoms and Causes
The cognitive impairments that come with MCI include: forgetfulness of
things, dates, directions, places, faces, and names. Difficulty
maintaining a train of thought, focusing or paying attention. Feelings of
being overwhelmed in the face of decisions, interpreting instructions,
or completing a task; this can lead to impulsiveness and poor
The mind becomes weaker at the mental tasks it was built for. Mild
cognitive impairment can also be accompanied by depression, anxiety,
irritability, aggression, or apathy.
So what causes this troubling, premature deterioration of the mind?
Unfortunately, there is no single, definitive cause, just as there is no
single outcome for the disorder. Nebulous and mysterious is this
scourge of minds.
According to a 2012 study at the Mayo Clinic, current evidence
indicates that MCI often arises from a weaker manifestation of many of
the same kinds of brain changes seen in full-blown Alzheimer's and
other forms of dementia.
These changes include the abnormal buildup of clumps of protein
plaques in the brain, such as Lewy bodies and beta-amyloid proteins,
and small strokes or reduced blood flow through brain blood vessels.
Brain-imaging studies show that MCI is associated with shrinkage of
the hippocampus, a region of the brain important for memory,
enlargement of the ventricles (fluid-filled spaces), and the reduced use
of glucose, the primary source of cell energy in key brain regions.
A 2007 longitudinal study at Duke University found that Alzheimer’s
disease accounts for 70% of all dementia. In a 2005 study by the
Dementia Research Group, global estimates showed that 24.3 milion
people worldwide suffer from dementia.
Because neurodegeneration may be impossible to reverse, prevention
strategies should be aimed at MCI as a target for early intervention
against AD. But don’t wait around until you see the signs; by then it
might be too late. Preventive measures in cognitively healthy individuals
is the best hope against the onset of neurodegeneration.
Here are 7 ways to keep your mind fresh and sharp.
1. Oily Fish
A 2005 study at Rush University found that the cognitive scores of
patients 65 and older declined on average at a rate of 0.04
standardized units per year (SU/y).
But fish slows the decline. Fish intake was associated with a slower rate
of cognitive decline in mixed models adjusted for age, sex, race,
education, cognitive activity, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and
total energy intake.
Compared with a decline rate in score of -0.100 SU/y among persons
who consumed fish less than weekly, the rate was 10% slower (-0.090
SU/y) among persons who consumed 1 fish meal per week and 13%
slower (-0.088 SU/y) among persons who consumed 2 or more fish
meals per week.
A 2009 study at the National Institute of Mental Health and
Neurosciences in Bangalore, India found that weekly consumption of
fish was associated with a 35% reduction of risk of Alzheimer's. Add
fish rich in omega-3’s such as salmon, trout, herring, sardines, and
tuna to your diet.
2. Fruit and Vegetable Juices
A 2006 study at Vanderbilt University found that the hazard ratio for
probable Alzheimer's disease was 0.24 for subjects who drank fruit and
veggie juices at least 3 times per week, compared with a hazard ratio of
0.84 for those drinking juices less often than once per week.
In other words, people who drink fruit and vegetable juices 3 times a
week or more have 3.5 less risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.
The authors suggest that the polyphenols contained in many fruits and
vegetables (think strawberries, mangoes, cucumbers, apples,
persimmons, kiwi, peaches, grapes, and tomatoes) possess strong
neuro-protective antioxidant effects against the oxidative damage
associated with the beta-amyloid pathogenesis characteristic of AD.
The 2009 study from above found that in men and women aged 65
years and above, the daily intake of fruit and vegetables and the weekly
intake of fish are associated with a 30%-40% decrease in the risk of
dementia and Alzheimer's disease across a 4-year follow-up period.
3. Tea Time
A 2008 study at the University of Singapore found that tea has
powerful neuro-protective effects.
Even drinking a little tea helps. Low tea intake reduced the risk of
cognitive impairment by 44%; medium intake by 55%; and high intake
The teas that provided the most benefit were black (fermented) and
oolong (semi-fermented) teas. Green tea was associated with a lower
prevalence of cognitive impairment but not cognitive decline.
4. Exercising the Body Helps the Brain Too
A 2006 study at the Center for Health Studies at the Group Health
Cooperative followed 1740 Americans aged 65 years and older, for 6
years. The adjusted risk of dementia was nearly 40% less in those who
exercised at least three times a week.
The study emphasized that exercise protected against dementia by
facilitating "neuroplasticity" in the brain, improving synaptogenesis and
enhancing hippocampal functioning.
Also, the authors posited that exercise may act through an increase in
the blood flow in the brain. Because decreased blood flow has been
implicated as a risk factor for Alzheimer's, neurodegeneration is less
likely to occur if there is a healthy circulation in the brain. (Read more
about how many push-ups an average man should be able to do.)
5. Cognitive Training
The brain is like a muscle. It needs to be worked out. Unlike muscles
however, where working out a muscle affects that muscle alone, doing
different brain exercises can improve cognition in general.
A 2002 study at the University of Alabama put subjects through
memory training, reasoning training, and processing speed training.
Memory training sought to enhance verbal episodic memory skills.
Inductive reasoning training sought to improve the ability to solve
problems that follow a serial pattern. Processing speed training sought
to improve visual search and identification skills.
At the end of the training phase, each intervention significantly
improved the targeted cognitive ability: speed of processing improved
in 86%, reasoning in 74%, but memory in only 26% of the persons in
the respective groups.
The magnitude of neuro-psychological gain after 2 years was
encouraging; it was equivalent to a protection from 7 to 14 years of
cognitive decline in elderly persons without dementia.
6. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains an abundance of caprylic acid. The body breaks
caprylic acid down into substances called ketone bodies.
These ketone bodies provide an alternative energy source for brain
cells that have lost their ability to use glucose due to Alzheimer's.
As it happens, glucose is the brain’s primary energy source, and
imaging studies demonstrate reduced glucose use in brain regions
affected by Alzheimer's.
A 2009 study at pharmaceuctical company Accera, Inc. reports that
participants who took Ketasyn, a medicine derived from caprylic acid,
performed better on memory tests and overall cognitive function than
those who received placebo.
7. Curcumin (Turmeric)
Curcumin is an ancient Indian herb often used in curry powder. A 2008
study at USC found that curcumin improves the cognitive functions in
patients with Alzheimer's disease due to its antioxidant, anti-
inflammatory, and lipophilic action.
Oxidative stress, free radicals, beta amyloid, cerebral deregulation
caused by bio-metal toxicity and abnormal inflammatory reactions all
contribute to Alzheimer's disease.
However due to the various effects of curcumin, such as decreased
beta amyloid plaques, delayed degradation of neurons, removal of
metals (metal-chelation), anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and decreased
microlgia formation, the overall memory in patients with Alzheimer's
disease was shown to be significantly improved when periodically
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|Eating fruits and vegetables at
least 3 times a week reduces
your risk for Pre-Alzheimer's.