A few of you have asked if there is any cognitive test you can do after I wrote my piece on memory loss and Alzheimers diagnosis last time.
I mentioned in that post that I rate Patrick Holford’s work on this subject and I noticed today that Food For the Brain, an organisation he is involved with, has a cognitive function test that has been awarded 5 stars for accuracy in a recent survey. Might be worth a look. Here are some details on tests and the study for you:
Ours at foodforthebrain.org (which is free and takes 20 minutes) has recently been given five stars in a comparison study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, when the separate aspects of cognitive function tested in our test were compared to the ‘state of the art’ tests used for diagnosis. Unlike many tests out there, it is accurate.
Food For The Brain is launching a campaign to raise awareness of how nutritional intervention can really help in the prevention of memory loss and Alzheimer’s particularly. Holford explains:
This month, at foodforthebrain.org, we are launching our ‘PLAN B’ to get the role of nutrition in Alzheimer’s prevention taken seriously and acted on. I’ve been meeting MP’s and people at the Department of Health and the NHS and we’ve got some exciting possibilities to really make a difference. One NHS psychiatric group wants to work with us getting GPs testing patients using our Cognitive Function Test so that more people can be screened early, then given appropriate nutrition advice.
So, what do you do if the test comes up with a possible problem?
Top Three Steps For Preventing Memory and Cognitive Function Loss
Holford recently sent out his top 3 steps so here they are in brief for you. Check out the Plan B and the test in full here:
1. Up omega 3s. While studies have been accumulating to show the benefit of a daily omega 3 fish oil supplement for those with diagnosed memory problems, a recent study has found, for the first time, that taking omega 3 fish oils versus placebos not only improves various aspects of cognition, but also correlates to positive structural changes in the brain indicating healthier, more intact brain tissue in critical areas of the brain.
This study from the Leibniz University in Hannover (sic), Germany, involving 65 healthy people aged 50 to 75, is the first to show that positive memory improvements can actually be seen to have an effect on the brain, which would normally be seen to be shrinking from 60 onwards. They were given daily fish oils of both EPA and DHA, which is what I take two capsules of daily.
In the study they were given four capsules a day providing 1320mg of EPA and 880mg of DHA. I’d suggest supplementing half this if you don’t have memory problems and possibly even less, 500mg of EPA a day if you eat oily fish three times a week. I achieve this by taking two capsules of EPA and DHA (mine has DPA too which can convert to either EPA or DHA as needed).
Ed: I assume he is meaning this product here.
2. Master your blood sugar level. There have been an ever-increasing number of studies linking blood sugar problems, notably diabetes, with memory loss and increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
The latest and greatest study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, involving over 35 thousand people, has shown that poor blood sugar control even before diabetes, is strongly linked to declining memory and greatest risk of dementia. The lowest risk occurs at blood glucose levels of 5.2mmol/l (95mg/dl). Diabetics usually have levels above 7mmol/l (125mg/dl), while anything above 6mmol/l (110mg/dl) is considered pre-diabetic.
This means that keeping a tight control on your blood sugar by following my low GL diet makes a big difference. If you struggle with sugar cravings try supplementing the combination of chromium with cinnulin, a cinnamon extract high in MCHP, and/or taking 3 capsules or 3 grams of glucomannan fibre with a large glass of water before meals to even out your blood sugar and make you feel satisfied for longer.
Ed: I have successfully used glucomannan fibre several times to help lower HBA1c diabetes scores. I also have a low GL diet as you know, which is also free from gluten and dairy. If all you need is a quick primer, see the Best and Worst Low GL Foods list, which is included in the book too.
Here is Holford’s Cinnulin and Chromium combined product. The glucomannan I have used comes in either powder or capsules. Here it is on Nutricentre, but ND should get it for you as usual as they stock Nature’s Plus products – just this one is not on their site yet, so ask. I see Holford also has a powder though that I just found here. And here are the caps.
3. Check your homocysteine and supplement B vitamins accordingly. I’ve long been an advocate of the vital importance of checking your homocysteine level, which can be done on a home-test kit and supplementing high dose B12 (500mcg), folic acid (800mcg) and B6 (20mg) accordingly if your level is above 10mmol/l. Many people over 50 have a level above 10.
In the landmark study in May, in the National Academy of Sciences journal, giving these B vitamins to those with memory decline and homocysteine above 10 resulted in almost nine times less brain shrinkage in the areas associated with Alzheimer’s and a virtual cessation of any further memory loss.
Really useful stuff. Hope it helps and we wish them every success with the campaign.