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We’re told that as we age, we can expect our memory to fail.
It’s why the phrase “senior moments” is so common.
But does aging really have to mean giving up such an essential part of ourselves? Or can we stave off memory loss, even in the face of a genetic predisposition to it?
A 10-year study puts it into perspective
We no longer have to wonder about the answers to those questions thanks to a decade-long study of older adults in China, which pitted a healthy lifestyle against aging when it comes to memory loss.
For the study, researchers analyzed the data of more than 29,000 people over the age of 60, including participants who were found to possess the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene — the strongest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. All had normal cognitive function at the beginning of the study, which allowed the researchers to directly compare any memory declines with how well they embraced a healthy lifestyle.
Lifestyle factors that the researchers looked at included a healthy diet, regular exercise, active social contact (such as spending time with friends and family), cognitive activity (like writing, reading, playing mahjong), not smoking and never drinking alcohol.
And after accounting for all other factors, the researchers found that a healthy lifestyle is a powerful way to preserve your memory.
Their results showed that each healthy lifestyle behavior was associated with a slower than average decline in memory over 10 years, but not all had equal effects…
The lifestyle factor with the biggest impact was a healthy diet. Practicing cognitive activities and exercise fell very closely behind.
Even better was that their research showed that the memory-saving results of following the healthy lifestyle factors held true even for carriers of the Alzheimer’s gene.
Ultimately the researchers concluded that embracing a healthy lifestyle not only reduced memory loss in those with the APOE gene, it actually kept dementia and cognitive impairment at bay for both groups of participants.
Those with an extremely healthy lifestyle were almost 90 percent less likely to develop dementia. And those with a simply average lifestyle benefitted from a 30 percent reduced risk.
Putting these findings to work to save your brain
Clearly, if you want to keep your memory going strong as you age, a healthy lifestyle is the way to go.
And since healthy diet and exercise were among the most effective lifestyle factors in this study, let’s talk about how you can optimize their effect, as well as supplements that have shown effective in supporting cognitive health.
I’m partial to the Mediterranean diet because of the findings of one study in particular…
It followed 500 participants and graded them on how well they followed the Med diet and then tested their spinal fluid for biomarkers of amyloid and tau protein. People who didn’t follow the diet closely had higher levels of biomarkers of amyloid and tau pathology than those who did.
If exercise puts you off, I have good news there too…
Research has found that as little as 4000 steps a day increases brain size. Brain shrinkage contributes to brain aging and cognitive decline. But if you can do more, 9800 steps a day have been shown to reduce dementia risk 50 percent.
I’m always going to look for easy health hacks to provide that extra support. Below are my go-to supplements if you’d like to check them out…
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