A recent report predicted that costs for people living with dementia in Australia will increase to more than $18 billion by 2025, and 536,000 people will have dementia if nothing is done. By 2056, the report predicts the number of people with dementia will be 1.1 million people, and costs will hit $36 billion.
These are frightening statistics! However, it is not all doom and gloom as a lot can be done to prevent dementia.
From an integrative medicine perspective, simple preventative measures include:
- Improve your cardiovascular health, i.e. lower your cholesterol and blood pressure
- Increase physical activity – at least 30 minutes a day for adults is recommended.
- Eat healthy – eat according to your biotype or at the very least follow a Mediterranean-style diet
- Avoid head injury
- Challenge yourself to learn new things
- Increase levels of social interaction
Is there a supplement that can help?
A landmark study by Baur et al published in the prestigious Nature journal in 2006 showed a shortened life span in diet-induced obese mice. Conversely, longevity was seen in obese mice supplemented with resveratrol. This led to resveratrol being sold as an over-the-counter nutritional supplement. Unfortunately, translating the effects of resveratrol to a human setting has proven difficult but there have been some interesting small-scale studies that have shown that Resveratrol is an effective nutritional supplement.
Scientific studies have revealed that restricting calories in animals prevents ageing. A possible biological target being SIRT1, which is associated with cellular ageing. Scientists around the world are developing potential anti-ageing medicines that can slow or reverse the ageing process with many studies involving SIRT1.
Resveratrol is a natural polyphenol found in grapes, wines and nuts. It activates a family of enzymes called sirtuins which include SIRT1. This nutritional supplement mimics the effects of calorie restriction in reducing oxidative stress on cells and organs.
Recent human studies
A recent significant Complementary and Alternative Medicine research has shown that the nutritional supplement Resveratrol is a potent activator of SIRT1, which mimics the effect of reduced-calorie intake.The researchers, led by Dr Moussa Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology Laboratory for Dementia and Parkinsonism Georgetown University Medical Center completed a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of 500mg resveratrol powder given orally once a day to individuals with mild to moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers stated,‘One of the most striking results of this study is the significant decrease in the level of CSF MMP9 after resveratrol treatment. MMP9 has recently emerged as a major player in several brain pathologies, including neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation’. Dr Moussa and his team concluded that Resveratrol nutritional supplement may slow cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease.
This evidence further indicates that Resveratrol is potentially a key nutritional supplement in anti-ageing medicine as it has the potential to mirror the effects of a low-calorie high exercise diet. You will read many articles in the media telling you about the health benefits of drinking wine is a good source of resveratrol. However, you will need to drink over 2,000 bottles per day to obtain the required daily levels of resveratrol which is why a nutritional supplement of resveratrol is the only viable option.