- Find out why this sad news about football heroes hit home
- An oily way to better brain power
- Discover the simple changes you can make to stop the worries
I read with deep sympathy the stories of two ex-professional footballers who have been diagnosed with early stages of dementia.
To the families and friends of Terry McDermott and Denis Law the news will be devastating as much as it is to them personally. It’s something I have experience of too.
Forgive me if you’re one of my most loyal readers…
So much that you know the names of my kids, my favourite rugby player, and what I’m wearing NOW.
(No, it’s not “nothing”…. I’m actually wearing a cardigan that has been described by many admirers as ‘snazzy’.)
But in case you didn’t read it in a previous letter…
A few years ago, my father was diagnosed with having senile dementia. It’s still in its early stages but, of course, being a health researcher extraordinaire, I’ve got really stuck into the subject.
And it’s some topic indeed! Grappling with it is like wrestling a monster squid.
But it needs to be done.
Why dementia is on the rise
At the moment, 850,000 people in the UK have dementia according to the Alzheimer’s Charity, and they predict that by 2040 this will rise to 1.6 million.
Part of the reason for these soaring figures is the country’s rapidly ageing population.
But conditions such as high cholesterol and blood pressure, lifestyle and lack of exercise can also increase the risk.
It’s not just my personal experience with my Dad that’s making me take more and more notice of this health topic. It’s now a major national health issue as the recent news stories have shown.
So, these are some of the ways you can PROTECT your brain, your sense of self, your memory, and your personality from the ravages of time.
Read on, because this is important…
2 oily weapons in the fight for a healthy brain
First off, you need to look at your diet.
Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to help prevent depression, as well as heart disease, arthritis, influenza, hyperactivity and even some forms of cancer.
These are famously found in fish oils. Fish contains DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) two essential fatty acids that have the strongest effect on the brain.
This could be because DHA is vital for developing our brains when we’re children.
According to certain studies, people who eat an average of 180 mg or more a day of DHA, a fatty acid found in algae, have a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia than people who eat less DHA.
If you’re not up for lashings of oily fish like mackerel, or cod liver oil tablets, then don’t worry. You can also get omega 3s through flaxseed oil and walnuts.
My Dad has been taking DHA & EPA rich Krill Oil for the last few years and I think this is part of the reason why he has maintained his memory in such a good state.
A new study backs up the power of EPA
If you need any more encouragement, the mainstream media is on this, too.
Recently the BBC reported a study by Imperial College researcher, Professor Basant Puri.
He gave children two capsules a day of an EPA supplement, the omega-3 fatty acid.
The children showed an increase in reading age of well over a year. Their handwriting got better, and they paid more attention in class.
Brain scans identified a chemical called N-Acetylaspartate (NAA) which is linked to the growth of nerve fibres in the brain
Personally, I make sure I eat at least one portion of oily fish every week. I take Krill Oil capsules AND eat a good scoop of walnuts every day.
You could say I’m a ‘fish nut’.
(Sorry about that).
Here’s another vital food for your brain
New research suggests that many of us are suffering from a folic acid deficiency… and this could be increasing the rates of mental decline.
Folic acid (one of the key B vitamins) comes from ‘folates’, which are substance found in sprouts, spinach, brewers’ yeast, liver and kidney.
People these days don’t eat enough of this food. And even when you cook or process these foods, the levels of folic acid drops.
Here’s a quick explanation of why this is dangerous…
Folic acid goes through a load of processes in your body and eventually becomes an active substance called methylfolate.
If this process isn’t carried out, the levels of methylfolate in your brain fall.
This can lead to neuropsychiatric symptoms like dementia, insomnia, irritability, forgetfulness, depression, and even schizophrenia.
Dr. E.H. Reynolds, a neurologist at King’s College, has produced a comprehensive review of the association between folic acid and dementia.
He says out that a folate deficiency is quite common, especially in older people.
But whatever age you are, up your intake of folic acid. Bear in mind that humans aren’t very good at absorbing this from the diet anyway. And that cooking sucks away the nutrients.
A good B vitamin supplement will boost your folate levels back to where you need them.
Could homocysteine be to blame for Alzheimer’s?
Now, while on the subject, I found some really interesting information…
Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine claim that high homocysteine levels are a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
In a study of 1092 men and women with an average age of 76 years, they found that those with a high blood plasma homocysteine level had nearly twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Joseph Loscalzo, MD, suggests that we can actually reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by supplementing our diets with… yes… folic acid!
Additional folic acid AND vitamin B12 will reduce homocysteine levels.
In an article in the Lancet in 2002, it said that 400-500 micrograms of folic acid per day would increase folic acid levels by 80% to 180% and lower homocysteine levels by about 30%.
I’m pouring with statistics today, aren’t I?
And here’s a final breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer’s…
A brain booster from Germany
You probably won’t have heard of Memantine, because it’s only recently become available in the UK.
Memantine comes from a naturally-occurring compound called adamantine. You’ll find this stuff in your teeth and other bony parts of your body.
For a number of years now the Germans have been using it, but the USA and the UK have only just given the green light for its use under prescription.
One of the writers at the Health Sciences Institute newsletter, Dr Marios Kyriazis, believes that memantine has ‘enormous potential as a protector of brain and nerve cells in senile dementia, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and alcohol dependence’.
Let’s hope science continues to seek and answer, and that this can support the natural approaches we know can help.
I hope that todays newsletter hasn’t worried any of you, and that it has shown how a few simple daily changes can help protect you.
But for now, I leave you with this website if you’re worried about memory loss and dementia: