A recent study out of Boston discovered a link between dementia and sleep; the research team had over 5000 men and women aged 30-62 track how long they slept per night for 10 years. They found that people are twice as likely to develop dementia if they sleep for 9 or more hours on a regular basis. Education also provides a protective effect; Dr. Sudha Seshadri explained that “participants without a high school degree who sleep for more than 9 hours each night had six times the risk of developing dementia” within 10 years compared to those who sleep less.
It is well-established that diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease; in fact, consuming excess dietary sugar leads to a higher risk of the disease – with or without diabetes. A recent British study may have finally found the specific molecular link. Protein glycation is a chemical change caused by excess glucose in the brain, and the researchers found that an enzyme known as macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) became glycated to a greater degree in people with Alzheimer’s disease compared to healthy controls.
A recent study from Ohio State University reviewed 27 studies that focused on mindfulness training in the aging population to determine the “cognitive, emotional, and physiological benefits.” According to mindfulness expert Dr. Ruchika Shaurya Prakash, the goal of meditation is “to foster compassionate acceptance” through experiencing thoughts, emotions, and sensations, and then letting them go without judgement.
A study of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in soccer players was recently conducted in Britain. CTE is a very difficult disease to study; sample sizes are usually very small and include a very specific demographic (i.e. professional male athletes who play contact sports), and it can only be diagnosed by examining brain tissue, which cannot be done until after death.
Amyloid β-protein (Aβ) deposits are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease; however, scientists have not been able to create a drug that targets this protein without causing severe side effects. A new study from the University of Alberta focused instead on amylin, a protein secreted from the pancreas that, when interacting with the amylin receptor, allows amyloids to form toxic plaques in the brain.