Memory slips may signal oncoming problems

I had to do a “double take” when I came across a breathless headline that completely misinterpreted the gist of a new study on Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The headline read: “Memory lapses ‘cause’ Alzheimer’s disease.”

So, let’s chalk another one up to the lamestream media’s poor attention to detail and logic, and take a moment to set the record straight…

Of course, memory lapses don’t really cause AD. But they may help predict the later development of AD.

For this new study, published in the medical journal Neurology, researchers recruited more than 500 elderly men and women. The participants’ average age at the study’s outset was 73 years.

Then, about once every year for 10 years, the researchers asked the participants about their memory. The participants also took memory and thinking tests throughout the course of the study.

Researchers found that men and women with self-reported memory “lapses” were almost three times more likely to develop cognitive impairment within the following decade. (Cognitive impairment can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.) In fact, 80 percent of those with self-reported memory lapses developed full-blown dementia within 12 years.

So, what constitutes a memory “lapse”? And should you be worried?

We are not talking about the convenient kind of “lapses” afflicting politicians in Washington D.C. Or those familiar “senior moments” that middle-aged people talk about. (Take this short quiz to help you assess the difference between normal, age-related memory loss and cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s disease.)

The subjects in this study had real cognitive decline and severe memory lapses. In addition, the subjects in the study did not report suffer real cognitive decline until they got into their 70s and 80s. So, in many ways, I look at this finding as good news…

This discovery means it took many years for dementia to take hold fully…even among those who experienced earlier memory lapses. This extended “precursor” period would provide plenty of time to begin interventions to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, as the researchers stated, the mainstream has nothing to offer that would help in that respect. In other words, there are no effective drug interventions, as I described earlier this year.

But just because big pharma doesn’t have any solutions, doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do…

Build a “brain reserve” by exercising your brain–read, study, learn, meditate, and above all, think! Remember the three sisters who reached their 100s? I told you about their common sense advice last summer.

Also, make some changes in your routine. And challenge yourself in new environments and novel situations. Immerse yourself in multi-sensory experiences. Make a grocery list and try to memorize it. Draw maps of new areas you visit. Do arithmetic in your head. (If the public schools taught you in first place.)

Cook new recipes. Learn to speak a foreign language. Paint, draw, play music, work on the car, or work in the garden. Take up a new activity (yoga, tai chi, hiking). And stay well hydrated.

Of course, following a healthy, balanced diet is also essential. You should always eat plenty of fruits and vegetables filled with active phytonutrients that can help protect your brain. Also, include moderate amounts of dairy, eggs, fish and meat–including some saturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain and nerve system need some cholesterol and fats to build healthy nerve fibers.

And you need to get enough vitamins A, B, D, and E, as well as bioavailable minerals, which are abundant in meats. (Research links strictly vegan diets with cognitive impairments, even in young people. Those findings are probably due to nutritional deficiencies, as I warned in the May 2014 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter.)

You should make sure to get enough B vitamins, which are essential for brain health. Look for a dietary supplement that includes 50 mg thiamine, 50 mg pyridoxine (B6), 400 micrograms folic acid, and 100 micrograms B12 in a daily dose.

Instead of tired, old gingko supplements, try an herbal constituent of the barberry bush called berberine (500 mg per day). It’s is proving to be a potent brain powerhouse. Also, consider lutein (12 mg per day). It penetrates the blood-brain barrier and has positive effects on eye and brain tissue. I helped discover its importance in human nutrition and metabolism as well as its occurrence in foods.

And last but not least, stay off statins. These drugs interfere with normal cholesterol metabolism, which is critical to healthy brain and nerve tissue.

After two different tax-subsidized “decades of the brain,” government scientists still don’t have one single effective drug for dementia. But, as you can see, there’s plenty you can do–without the government’s “help.”


  1. “Self-reported memory complaints,” Neurology, September 24, 2014, published on-line