11 Nov Study Finds Possible ‘Recipe’ for Preventing Alzheimer’s
by Maggie Fox and Stacey Naggiar
Just two years of exercising, eating healthier food and doing a little brain training boosted people’s memory function, researchers reported Monday. It’s the first proof that some of the things people have been trying to prevent Alzheimer’s may actually work.
The study, done in Finland, doesn’t point to any one thing people can do to prevent memory loss. Instead, it’s a cocktail, the researchers told a meeting of Alzheimer’s experts.
“It’s the first time we have been able to give people a kind of recipe for what is useful,” said Maria Carrillo, vice president of Medical & Scientific Relations at the Alzheimer’s Association.
Various studies have given people hints at what can prevent Alzheimer’s. Some are common-sense: What keeps you healthy overall, such as regular exercise and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, also helps prevent Alzheimer’s. Others have shown that people who are socially engaged are less likely to develop memory loss. Still others have shown that keeping the brain active with puzzles or games can help, and a whole industry has arisen out of that research.
Dr. Miia Kivipelto of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland, and colleagues tested people with a combination of all these approaches. They randomly assigned half to do the entire batch of changes, and the other half simply got general health advice.
They tested all the 1,260 volunteers, aged 60 to 77, at the beginning of the study and then two years later.
Those who did exercise, changed their diet, made an effort to socialize and who did the memory training did significantly better on the memory tests two years later, Kivipelto told the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen.
It’s the kind of study that researchers say is the most solid — one that randomly assigns people to a treatment or no treatment, and watches the changes in real-time, instead of relying on people to remember what they ate or whether they exercised.
It’s similar to what Susan Megerman is trying for herself. Megerman, 69, doesn’t have any memory issues yet, and she does not want to have any if she can prevent it.
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