logo
food for the brain

Championing optimum nutrition for the mind


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.

Become a Friend of Food for the Brain and get £50 off testing

You can also start to follow our '6 Alzheimer's Prevention Steps' which are outlined below:

 

The 6 Alzheimer's Prevention Steps

 

Circular diagram

 

 

 

Pizza diagram

 

Heading

Eating one serving of oily fish a week is associated with halving the risk of Alzheimer’s.[1] Supplements of one kind of omega 3 fish oil, called DHA, have been shown to enhance memory in adults[2] who don’t eat fish, and to prevent memory loss in those in the early stages of memory decline.[3] 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[4][5], D and choline, all essential for the brain. Chia and flax seeds are also an excellent source of omega 3. Back to 6 steps Illustration

Summary

 

Heading

The more fruit and vegetables you eat the lower is your risk of cognitive decline[6] with vegetables being particularly protective.[7] The best kinds of vegetables are carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach and mushrooms. The best fruits are berries, especially blueberries and strawberries.[8] Flavonoids and polyphenols, found not only in fruit and vegetables, but also in tea, red wine and dark chocolate, are associated with preserving memory[9]and a number of mechanisms exist to explain their positive actions on cognitive performance.[27] The most protective effect is found eating six servings (500g) a day of fruit and vegetables.[7]

Supplementing both vitamin C (1g) and vitamin E combined is associated with halving the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.[10] Back to 6 steps

Illustration

Summary

 

Heading

Keeping your blood sugar level down, which also means you make less insulin, preserves your memory.[11] 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.[7] 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.[12] Eat your fruit, don’t drink it. Fruit juice has a lot of sugar in it. Back to 6 steps Illustration

Summary

 

Heading

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.[13] Vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid, especially in combination, lower blood levels of homocysteine, which is a key predictor of risk. [14]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[15] and memory loss[16] 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[17], and antacid ‘proton-pump inhibitor’ (PPI) medication[18]. If you are taking these be sure your GP checks your homocysteine level. Back to 6 steps Illustration

Summary

 

Heading

While there is inconsistent evidence linking coffee with more or less risk, drinking lots of coffee both raises homocysteine levels[19] and promotes the excretion of protective B vitamins.[20] For example, two cups of coffee raises homocysteine by 11% in 4 hours.[21]

Green tea on the other hand, is associated with a lower risk of cognitive impairment. [22]Ordinary tea drinking is also associated with better cognition.[23] Our advice is to limit coffee to one a day and drink tea, ideally green, instead. Back to 6 steps

Illustration

Summary

 

Heading

Keeping fit,[24] 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[25] or yoga, and exercising outdoors – we make vitamin D in the presence of sunlight.

These activities also help to reduce stress, which is another prevention step in the right direction, as is keeping your blood pressure down.[26] Back to 6 steps

Illustration

Summary

 

Download this page as a pdf

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.

 

References

  1. M. Morris et al, Archives of Neurology 2003;volume 60: pages 940-946
  2. 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
  3. 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 
  4. 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
  5. Vogiatzoglou A. et al., ‘Dietary sources of vitamin B-12 and their association with plasma vitamin B-12 concentrations in the general population: the Hordaland Homocysteine Study.’ Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Apr;89(4):1078-87; also Nurk E et al., ‘Cognitive performance among the elderly and dietary fish intake: the Hordaland Health Study.’ Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Nov;86(5):1470-8
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. Martinez-Lapiscina EH, Clavero P, Toledo E, Estruch R, Salas-Salvado J, San Julian B, et al. Mediterranean diet improves cognition: the PREDIMED-NAVARRA randomised trial. Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry 2013
  13. Clarke R et al., Archives of Neurology, 1998
  14. Wald DS, Kasturiratne A, Simmonds M. Serum homocysteine and dementia: Meta-analysis of eight cohort studies including 8669 participants. Alzheimers Dement 2011; 7: 412-7
  15. AD.Smith et al, PLoS ONE,, September 2010 | Volume 5 | Issue 9 | e12244
  16. De Jager, C. et al., ‘Cognitive and clinical outcomes of homocysteine lowering B vitamin treatment in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial’, Int J Geriatr Psychiatry (2011) Jul 21. doi: 10.1002/gps.2758
  17. Hermann L. S. et al. ‘Vitamin B12 Status of Patients Treated With Metformin: A Cross-Sectional Cohort Study’ Br J Diabetes Vasc Dis.  2004; 4 (6): 401-406
  18. 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
  19. Grubben M J et al., American Journal of Clin. Nutrition, Vol. 71, No. 2, 480-484, Feb 2000
  20. Ulvik A et al., ‘Coffee consumption and circulating B-vitamins in healthy middle-aged men and women.’ Clin Chem. 2008 Sep;54(9):1489-96
  21. Verhoef P et al., American Journal of Clin. Nutrition, vol. 76, No. 6 (2002), pp. 1244-1248
  22. Kuriyama S, Hozawa A, Ohmori K, Shimazu T, Matsui T, Ebihara S, et al. Green tea consumption and cognitive function: a cross-sectional study from the Tsurugaya Project 1. Am J Clin Nutr 2006; 83: 355-61
  23. See reference 9 above. Nurk et al.
  24. Lautenschlager NT, Cox KL, Flicker L, Foster JK, van Bockxmeer FM, Xiao J, et al. Effect of physical activity on cognitive function in older adults at risk for Alzheimer disease: a randomized trial. Jama 2008; 300: 1027-37
  25. Lam LC et al ‘A 1-year randomized controlled trial comparing mind body exercise (Tai Chi) with stretching and toning exercise on cognitive function in older Chinese adults at risk of cognitive decline.’ J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2012 Jul;13(6):568.e15-20
  26. Peila R, White LR, Masaki K, Petrovitch H, Launer LJ. Reducing the risk of dementia. Efficacy of long-term treatment of hypertension. Stroke 2006; 37: 1165-70,   Launer LJ, Hughes T, Yu B, Masaki K, Petrovitch H, Ross GW, et al. Lowering midlife levels of systolic blood pressure as a public health strategy to reduce late-life dementia: perspective from the Honolulu Heart Program/Honolulu Asia Aging Study. Hypertension 2010; 55: 1352-9
  27. Williams RJ, Spencer JP. ‘Flavonoids, cognition, and dementia: actions, mechanisms, and potential therapeutic utility for Alzheimer disease.’ Free Radic Biol Med. 2012 Jan 1;52(1):35-45

    take the CFT Lower your homocysteine Take B vitamins Do the prevention steps

    Keep Physically, Mentally and Socially Active Limit Coffee - Green Tea is Better Supplement B Vitamins Minimise Sugar & Refined Food - Eat a Low GL Diet Up Antioxidants Eat Fish And Seeds