Discover more from Dignity Integrative Newsletter
The dementia edition | #14
This month, we published three posts to the Dignity Integrative blog:
Our health coach, Teresa Rosa, published Part 3 of her journey treating SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). She has made huge progress, but it has not come without its challenges. You can read Teresa’s post here.
We’ve been publishing a series of posts on the integrative medicine approach to different common conditions. This month, we published An integrative approach to abdominal pain.
Finally, our team published a great piece on what the rise of ChatGPT might mean for our reliance on Dr. Google. If you’ve ever Googled your symptoms and tried to find answers, this post is definitely for you!
Ok—now, on to this month’s recommendations.
Dementia is a feared condition as we age only made more worrisome due to the lack of effective treatments for the disease. And this month there has been an unusual amount of new research released on steps we can take to mitigate our risk.
So, this month we focus on what the new research on dementia can tell us:
#1: Early menopause and later start to hormone replacement treatment may increase risk of Alzheimer’s
Post-menopausal women make up 70% of patients with Alzheimer’s dementia.
This study from the JAMA Network (and published in Science Daily) suggests an association between early menopause, experienced by up to 10% of women, and late initiation of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
While there is ongoing controversy on the use of HRT, there are clear indications to use it for women with significant vasomotor symptoms (night sweats and associated anxiety as well as insomnia). There is evidence of a cardio-protective effect using HRT.
Dementia is a significant concern as we all age and the evidence is mounting for the appropriate use of HRT to mitigate this risk factor.
#2: The association between bone mineral density and dementia
This study from Neurology.org followed over 3,600 people for an average of 10 years. Those with low bone mineral density showed an association with increased risk of developing dementia.
The difference comparing the highest bone density to the lowest third showed a doubling in dementia risk. While this does not prove a causal relationship it does reinforce the importance of maintaining bone density through the use of resistance training as we age.
#3: Music training as we age can help maintain neuroplasticity
You’re never too old to take up an instrument—and this study just might push you to make a start.
In this interesting study of 132 older patients looking at change in grey matter volume in the brain, it appears music training can be effective in maintaining neuroplasticity, the cellular connections that maintain and improve cognition.
Maintaining neuroplasticity as we age is an important component of mental resiliency with implications for reducing risk of dementia.
#4: Hearing aids may reduce risk of dementia
This powerful study from the UK Biobank of over 430,000 people found a higher risk of dementia in people with hearing loss who did not use hearing aids versus those who did.
Since hearing loss will impact up to 1 of 3 older adults it is a powerful modifiable risk factor. Compared with participants with normal hearing, people with hearing loss not using hearing aids had a 42 percent higher risk of all-cause dementia, while no increased risk was found in people with hearing loss who used hearing aids.
#5: Daily dose of blueberries to improve brain health
What’s the right dose of blueberries to improve vascular and brain health? Somewhere between 75-80 according to this study.
In blueberries, there is a particular polyphenol called anthocyanins which gives them their blue color. Polyphenols are a class of over 8000 chemicals found in plants that provide numerous health benefits.This study looked at the possibility of increasing cerebral blood flow related to blueberry ingestion.
It is one of the many reasons I eat blueberries almost every day!
#6: Redux from last month: two more ways to lower dementia risk
Finally, as a reminder, last month we shared two more studies about lowering risk of dementia, both focused on your nutrition:
First, eating a traditional Mediterranean-type diet—rich in foods such as seafood, fruit, and nuts—may help reduce the risk of dementia by almost a quarter, a new study revealed.
Meanwhile, another study concluded that increased intake of magnesium through leafy greens and nuts leads to better brain health as we age.