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food for the brain

Championing optimum nutrition for the mind


If the signs of cognitive decline and possible Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) are caught early enough then changes in nutrition, lifestyle and supplements may help to slow down the progression to the full disease and in many cases delay it enormously. The Cognitive Function (CFT) test aims to provide you with a tool to self-assess your level of cognitive impairment and potential risk of AD. It is online and free to anyone with internet access aged 50 or above.

Testing for Mild Cognitive Impairment

Most people with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) are formally diagnosed in their mid-70s or later. However, often family members will realise that all has not been well for some time. We often hear from the children of those with Alzheimer’s saying of their parent

‘Looking back, there were lots of little things that changed, but I didn’t realise what it was at the time’.

In fact, by the time these changes were starting to happen, the brain was well on its way to Alzheimer’s and much of the damage had already been done. By the time a person has reached the tipping point at which they have full Alzheimer’s Disease, there is little that can be done other than to manage the symptoms using prescription drugs.

However, if the condition is recognised before this point, changes in nutrition, lifestyle and supplements may really help to slow down the progression to the full disease and in many cases delay it enormously. The trick is to catch it at the earliest stage possible, and this means before any symptoms are showing in the course of every-day life. This early stage is known as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and you’ll see in the diagram below that when a person has this, their cognitive function worsens faster than someone whose brain is aging normally.

The Cognitive Function Test is a free online tool that aims to measure this gap to give people the opportunity to know if they are on the green line with normal brain aging or on the red line, in which the brain’s function is declining in a way that suggests future Alzheimer’s disease.

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Guidance on Taking the Cognitive Function Test

This test is designed for those aged 50 to 70 and will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

You will need Javascript and the test should be taken using a full screen on a computer with a minimum screen size of 1024 x 768 pixels (e.g., a 12 inch-wide screen), a stable high-speed internet connection and not from behind a corporate or NHS firewall (NB. We have found the test does not work so well on Internet Explorer 8, please complete it using Google Chrome or Firefox browsers).

The test can be completed on a computer with a seperate mouse (please ensure your mouse is working correctly before starting) and a laptop with a touch pad, as well as a tablet. 

Once you have started the test it is important that you are not disturbed by the telephone etc., and that you do not take a break. If you require glasses for computer screen work please use them.

Please do not worry if you find the later tests difficult. They are designed so that nobody is able to finish all of them. Please take time to read the instructions carefully before starting any part of the test. Please don't be tempted to skip the examples, they will help you to do your best in the test.

The Cognitive Function Test and Homocysteine Testing

Identifying mild cognitive impairment early enough is difficult; the signs can only be identified with tests that look at specific functions of the brain. However there are other reasons why cognitive function appears to be lower in some people such as depression, and prescription drug use.

However homocysteine levels in blood plasma have been identified as a risk factor for and a predictor of Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore if a low score is identified through the Cognitive Function Test it is then useful to back it up with a homocysteine blood test. The combination of both tests will give you a good idea of whether your low score is due to your homocysteine status or not and whether you need to take action to lower it in order to reduce your risk of further memory decline.

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