The Cognitive Function Test is a free online screening test that checks four key types of cognitive ability that decline in dementia.
If your score isn’t great you’ll get a letter to take to your GP recommending homocysteine testing. If your homocysteine level is above 10mcmol/l you’ll be advised to supplement with B vitamins. Homocysteine testing can be carried out by your doctor. You can also do it privately through many laboratories, or with a home test kit from www.yorktest.com.
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You can also start to follow our '6 Alzheimer's Prevention Steps' which are outlined below:
The 6 Alzheimer's Prevention Steps
|Eating one serving of oily fish a week is associated with halving the risk of Alzheimer’s. Supplements of one kind of omega 3 fish oil, called DHA, have been shown to enhance memory in adults who don’t eat fish, and to prevent memory loss in those in the early stages of memory decline. But it’s not just oily fish. The more fish you eat, the better your memory test performance. Fish is also an excellent source of vitamins B12, D and choline, all essential for the brain. Chia and flax seeds are also an excellent source of omega 3. Back to 6 steps|
The more fruit and vegetables you eat the lower is your risk of cognitive decline with vegetables being particularly protective. The best kinds of vegetables are carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach and mushrooms. The best fruits are berries, especially blueberries and strawberries. Flavonoids and polyphenols, found not only in fruit and vegetables, but also in tea, red wine and dark chocolate, are associated with preserving memoryand a number of mechanisms exist to explain their positive actions on cognitive performance. The most protective effect is found eating six servings (500g) a day of fruit and vegetables.
|Keeping your blood sugar level down, which also means you make less insulin, preserves your memory. That means avoiding sugar as much as possible and eating slow-releasing ‘whole’ carbohydrate foods such as wholegrain bread or pasta and oat cakes. Eating white bread is associated with a poorer cognitive test performance, whereas high fibre bread is associated with better performance. Eating carbohydrate foods with protein, for example brown rice with fish, or porridge oats with seeds, further reduces the glycemic load (GL) of a meal. Best fruits in this respect are berries, cherries and plums while grapes, raisins and bananas are high GL. These kinds of foods are consistent with a Mediterranean diet which has also been shown to reduce risk. Eat your fruit, don’t drink it. Fruit juice has a lot of sugar in it. Back to 6 steps|
|Having a higher intake and blood level of vitamin B12 and folic acid is associated with a quarter of the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid, especially in combination, lower blood levels of homocysteine, which is a key predictor of risk. Lowering your homocysteine, if above 10mcmol/l, by supplementing high dose B6 (20mg), folic acid (800mcg) and B12 (500mcg) has been shown to greatly reduce the rate of brain shrinkage and memory loss in those at risk of Alzheimer’s. That is why it is VITAL to check your homocysteine level and, if above 10, speak with your doctor about supplementing high doses of B vitamins. Otherwise, supplement a daily multivitamin or B complex. B12 absorption can greatly worsen with age, and is inhibited by the diabetes drug metformin, and antacid ‘proton-pump inhibitor’ (PPI) medication. If you are taking these be sure your GP checks your homocysteine level. Back to 6 steps|
While there is inconsistent evidence linking coffee with more or less risk, drinking lots of coffee both raises homocysteine levels and promotes the excretion of protective B vitamins. For example, two cups of coffee raises homocysteine by 11% in 4 hours.
Green tea on the other hand, is associated with a lower risk of cognitive impairment. Ordinary tea drinking is also associated with better cognition. Our advice is to limit coffee to one a day and drink tea, ideally green, instead. Back to 6 steps
Keeping fit, learning new things to stimulate your mind and staying in touch with friends and family all help to reduce your risk. If you don’t use it you lose it.
There may also be a benefit in exercises that require more mind-body coordination, such as t’ai chi or yoga, and exercising outdoors – we make vitamin D in the presence of sunlight.
Food for the Brain seeks to increase funding for research on prevention of Alzheimer's disease, with the aim of vastly reducing the numbers of people having to endure this disease. This statement, signed by over 100 scientists from 136 countries, calls upon the governments of the G8 countries to make prevention of dementia one of their major health aims; it was written by the Head of Food for the Brain's Scientific Advisory Board, Professor David Smith, and published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease in December, 2013. Dementia (Including Alzheimer’s Disease) can be Prevented: Statement Supported by International Experts.
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- W Stonehouse et al., ‘DHA supplementation improved both memory and reaction time in healthy young adults: a randomized controlled trial.’ Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 May;97(5):1134-43;also Yurko-Mauro K et al. (2015) 'Docosahexaenoic Acid and Adult Memory: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis'. PLoS One, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120391
- Yurko-Mauro K, et al., ‘Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in age-related cognitive decline.’ Alzheimers Dement. 2010 Nov;6(6):456-64
- Nurk E, Drevon CA, Refsum H, Solvoll K, Vollset SE, Nygard O, et al. Cognitive performance among the elderly and dietary fish intake: the Hordaland Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2007; 86: 1470-8
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- Nurk E et al., ‘Cognitive performance among the elderly in relation to the intake of plant foods. The Hordaland Health Study’ British Journal of Nutrition (2010), 104, 1190–1201
- M. Loef, H. WaLac H Fruit, vegetables and prevention of cognitive decline or dementia: a systematic review of cohort studies’ The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging,Volume 16, Number 7, 2012 626-630
- Devore Annals of Neurology April 12 Devore EE, Kang JH, Breteler MM, Grodstein F. Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Annals of neurology 2012; 72: 135-43
- Nurk E, Refsum H, Drevon CA, et al. (2009) Intake of flavonoid rich wine, tea, and chocolate by elderly men and women is associated with better cognitive test performance. J Nutr 139, 120–127
- Zandi PP et al, Arch Neurol. 2004 Zandi PP, Anthony JC, Khachaturian AS, Stone SV, Gustafson D, Tschanz JT, et al. Reduced risk of Alzheimer disease in users of antioxidant vitamin supplements: the Cache County Study. Arch Neurol 2004; 61: 82-8
- Luchsinger JA et al., Neurology 2004; Abbatecola AM. et al., J Am Geriatr Soc, 2004; Xu WL et al.,Neurology, 63:1181–6 (2004); Hassing LB. et al.,J Int Neuropsychol Soc, 2004; Yaffe K. et al.,Neurology, 2004; Arvanitakis Z. et al., Arch Neurol, 2004; Yaffe K. et al.,J Nutr Health Aging, 2006; Roberts R et al., Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord, 2010; Rawlings et al., Diabetes in Midlife and Cognitive Change Over 20 Years: A Cohort Study, Annals of Internal Medicine, 2014
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- AD.Smith et al, PLoS ONE,, September 2010 | Volume 5 | Issue 9 | e12244
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- Ito T, Jensen RT. ‘Association of long-term proton pump inhibitor therapy with bone fractures and effects on absorption of calcium, vitamin B12, iron, and magnesium.’ Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2010 Dec;12(6):448-57
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- See reference 9 above. Nurk et al.
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