Fatty fish consumption can slash dementia risk
Fatty fish consumption found to slash risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s
by Jessica Fraser
(NewsTarget) A new Tufts University study published in the November issue of the journal Archives of Neurology has found that people with diets high in fatty fish run a significantly lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The study examined the diets and dementia levels of nearly 900 men and women who participated in the Framingham Heart Study. Researchers followed the participants for nine years, and found that 99 people developed dementia, including 71 who developed Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers examined the participants’ blood levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid — and found that those with the highest DHA levels had a 47 percent lower risk of developing dementia, and a 39 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s, compared to participants with lower blood DHA levels.
“If you have a high level of DHA, a fatty acid found in fish, it reduced your risk of dementia by about half,” said the study’s lead researchers, Dr. Ernst J. Schaefer, a senior scientist and director of the Lipid Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition research Center on Aging at Tufts University.
Omega-3s have long been lauded as beneficial to cardiovascular and circulatory system health. “Just as fish is good for your heart, it’s probably food for your brain as well,” Schaefer said.
Schaefer’s study found that blood levels of DHA can differ depending on the liver’s ability to convert ALA (alpha-linolenic acid, another fatty acid) into DHA. However, the greatest influence on blood DHA levels was the amount of fish consumed. The Framingham participants who ate the most fish per week had the highest blood levels of DHA, while those who ate the least fish had much lower levels.
Though Schaefer believes supplementing the diet with fish oil capsules would be as effective as eating fatty fish — such as mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, salmon and albacore tuna — some experts believe more study is needed to determine the link between fish oil supplements and prevention of dementia.
According to consumer health advocate Mike Adams, author of “The Seven Laws of Nutrition,” Schaefer’s study shows that the oils found in fatty fish can protect the nervous system from degenerative damage.
“But what most people don’t know is that those same healthy oils can also be found in many plants, including chia seeds, flaxseed, avocados and macadamia nuts,” Adams said.
Speaking two languages into old age can stave off Dementia
Originally published January 18 2007
Speaking two languages into old age can stave off dementia, study finds
by Jessica Fraser
(NewsTarget) New Canadian research appearing in the February issue of the journal Neuropsychologia found that knowing two languages or more can postpone the onset of dementia in old age by more than four years.
The researchers — led by Dr. Ellen Bialystok of the Rotman Research Institute of the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto — recruited 184 Toronto-area residents for their study. Bialystok and colleagues examined the participants for knowledge of languages and the age at which signs of dementia began to appear.
Men who spoke only one language were found to develop dementia at an average age of 70.8, while uni-lingual women developed the disorder at 71.9. However, among men who spoke at least two languages, onset of dementia was delayed until age 76.1, on average, while multi-lingual women developed dementia at an average of 75.1 years old.
When groups of men and women were combined, multi-lingual people experienced a delay in onset of dementia of 4.1 years, compared to those who spoke only one language.
“It’s a much larger effect than I expected,” Bialystok said. “You do research because you hope that your ideas are right. But I am always surprised; I always have the ‘wow’ reaction. And in this case the results were so clear.”
According to Bialystok, the benefit likely comes from fluently knowing at least one non-native language, as method of learning and grammatical correctness did not seem to affect results. “What matters is that you have to manage two complete language systems at once,” she said.
Bialystok and colleagues believe that the benefits of knowing multiple languages are not influenced by level of education, occupation, cultural upbringing or immigration history. The study revealed that participants with the highest education tended to speak only one language, which is typically thought to postpone the onset of dementia.
Neuropsychologist Fergus Craik, a member of the research team, said the study was an example of how lifestyle can affect mental functioning in old age. “It’s not like it stops dementia, but … it’s deferred,” he said. “That, in and of itself, is hugely important.”
Acupressure could calm Dementia Patients
Originally published February 6 2007
Acupressure could calm patients with dementia, study finds
(NewsTarget) The practice of acupressure might help calm people suffering from dementia, one study suggests.
A Taiwanese study found acupressure might alleviate the agitations that people with forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s go through. Acupressure is like acupuncture, only using hands instead of needles.
People with dementia are more prone to become angry, yell at others or become violent; they also may take illogical actions such as disrobing in public or wander around lost in the streets.
The effects of dementia are a concern for relatives and caretakers alike, as the agitations put dementia patients at risk of injury. The behavior also makes it harder for family members or nursing home staff to care for them.
For the study, the Taiwanese researchers enlisted the help of 31 dementia patients living in a nursing home. The 31 people were given a 15-minute acupressure massage twice a day, five days a week. This went on for four weeks.
To compare the effects of acupressure versus another theory the researchers were working on, the researchers visited the same 31 people and talked with them for 15 minutes each day for the following four weeks.
Overall, the team found that acupressure works much better than any other method they tried in calming down the agitations of dementia patients.
Furthermore, they found that acupressure helped in lessening the amount of aggressive behavior that dementia patients exhibit over the four weeks it was used. It also worked with more immediate results when used than the other methods.
The study’s results suggest that simple human touch has amazing therapeutic capabilities. It isn’t the first study to connect the two: a recent research review found that other forms of touch therapy can calm dementia patients down as well.
Acupressure has been used in Chinese medicine for more than 2000 years as a touch massage therapy.
The Taiwanese study appears in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.