Does Lifestyle Influence Memory Decline?

Lifestyle factors
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Lifestyle plays a role in memory decline.

There has long been a debate between nature and nurture.

Some believe genetics govern the health and wellness of a person.

Others see choices and environment a being most important.

Science tends to indicate a “middle ground” between these two extremes.

Even so, environment and choices are far easier to control.

According to a recent MedPage Today article titled “Memory Decline Tied to Lifestyle Factors,” a team of researches focused on how certain choices and habits impacted brain health.

Making healthy lifestyle choices can lessen memory decline.
Eating a healthy diet may be one of the best lifestyle factors for reducing cognitive decline.

The study was conducted by Jianping Jia, MD, PhD, of Xuanwu Hospital of Capital Medical University in Beijing and his co-authors with results reported in The BM.

Research involved analyzing data from about 29,000 adult participants with a mean age of 72.

Of the participants, 48.5 percent were women and 20.4 percent were APOE4 carriers.

All of these participants initially tested for normal cognitive functioning.

What were the findings?

Those who were age 60 or older and demonstrated at least four of six favorable lifestyle factors showed a slower memory decline than those with only one positive factor.

Over a decade, the memory decline was 0.28 points less on the Auditory Verbal Learning Test (AVLT).

Cognitive measurements included immediate recall, short-delay recall, long-delay recall, and long-delay recognition.

What were the positive lifestyle factors measured?

The six favorable lifestyle factors were cognitive activity, healthy diet, exercise, social contact, no drinking, and no smoking.

Of these six, the strongest association with health memory was diet, followed by cognitive activity, physical exercise, and social contact.

Slower memory decline was also reported in those who carried the apolipoprotein E ε4 (APOE4) allele whether they had a favorable lifestyle of four or more factors or an average lifestyle with two or three health factors.

This was similar to those who did not carry APOE4.

Previous research demonstrated the APOE4 negative impact on cognitive health.

Because APOE4 is one of the strongest risk factors currently known for Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias, the measured benefit of lifestyle changes is encouraging.

Other studies like the FINGER trial also demonstrated better cognitive tests for those with favorable lifestyle interventions.

Because memory decline is impacted by several variables, further research should be done to determine the most important factors, the corresponding thresholds for factors, and the ideal ages for intervention.

Reference: MedPage Today (Jan. 25, 2023) “Memory Decline Tied to Lifestyle Factors”

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