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Evidence for
how to slow cognitive decline

Because of this article, I want to summarize the many findings for how to slow cognitive decline. "Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a syndrome characterized by a subtle decline in cognitive function and is considered a transitory state between normal aging and clinical dementia and Alzheimer disease (AD). A modest rate of brain atrophy is observed in normal aging. However, in subjects with MCI, dementia, or AD, the brain atrophy rates are markedly faster. Furthermore, in MCI, the rate of atrophy is usually higher in the subgroup that eventually converts to AD. There are no available cures for AD, but an alternative approach is strategies to delay disease progression at an early stage. Cranial MRI is established as a method to monitor disease progression. Effective interventions may be detected by a slowing of brain atrophy rate."
INDIVIDUAL NUTRIENTS
1. "Epidemiologic evidence is consistent with a protective role of dietary intake of fish oils rich in ω-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA. "
ACTION: Eat cold water fish (tuna, salmon, etc.) at least twice a week, or take 2g of fish oil daily.
2. "Raised plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) is a recognized modifiable risk factor for cognitive impairment, dementia, and AD." Homocysteine (Hcys) accumulates in the blood of people who do not have a healthy diet. Here is a lengthy essay on homocysteine. To keep Hcys levels low, one needs vitamins B6 (pyridoxine), B9(folate), and B12(cyanocobalamin), which allow Hcys to be reconverted metabolically to methionine.
ACTION: Eat a rainbow of vegetables almost every day. Or else take a multivitamin with B6, B12, and folate (B9).
3. "The atrophy rate of the brain is faster at low plasma vitamin B-12 concentrations." Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products. For vegans this is a particular concern. See poster 170 for sources.
ACTION: Get at least the Daily value of vitamin B12.
NOTE ACTIONS 1, 2, AND 3 SLOW COGNITIVE DECLINE BY 50%!
4. Vitamin K - You get this from the green leafy vegetables in that daily salad. A cup of broccoli provides 272% DV. A recent study found that patients with early-stage Alzheimer's disease consumed less vitamin K than did cognitively intact control subjects. (J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Dec;108(12):2095-9). Link: vitamin K
5. Vitamin C (500mg BID) and vitamin E(from diet and occasional supplementing) - Combined use of vitamins C and E protects against Alzheimer's. Ref: Spring/Summer 2005 Oregon State Univ. Linus Pauling Institute Research Report *Recent Research on Vitamins C and E, S. Lawson - " Archives of Neurology in 2004 reported that the combined use of vitamin E and vitamin C - but neither vitamin alone - protects against Alzheimer's disease...".
6. Vitamin D (2,000 IU daily) From Alzheimer's Disease, Cognitive Decline and Nutrition Newsletter - February 2009 Higher serum vitamin D3 levels are associated with better cognitive test performance in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Recent studies suggest that vitamin D metabolites may be important for preserving cognitive function via specific neuroprotective effects. In test scores of 225 older outpatients diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's, those with highest blood levels of vitamin D had highest cognitive function.
7. Aspirin (regular 3x per week or baby aspirin daily) Aspirin protects against Alzheimer's, from the 2006 Linus Pauling Institute Newsletter
8. Melatonin (I take it 4 times a week before bed) - in 2006, I learned that oxidative stress precedes amyloid plaque by decades.  Amyloid appears to protect neurons and might not be cause of Alzheimer's. Dr. Mark Smith also reported that lipid levels change dramatically with age, so fish oil is really important with age.  Melatonin and curcumin decrease risk of Alzheimer's, he reported. 
FOODS
9. Blueberries and green tea: I learned in June, 2014 how blueberries and a cup of green tea may substantially reduce the risk of Alzheimer's. There is also a great article in AJCN July 2014 supplement on how nuts and berries reduce and partially reverse cognitive decline. To join the Teaberry Trial and receive measurements how blueberries and green tea improve your brain function, click here. A cup of tea may delay onset of Alzheimer's disease.  Effects of green tea last a week, while black tea works only a day.  Tea inhibits brain enzymes linked to the disease.  Newcastle Univ. Study, Phytotherapy Research Online, Oct. 2004
10. Coffee drinking at midlife is associated with a decreased risk of dementia/AD later in life. After an average follow-up of 21 years, 1409 individuals (71%) aged 65 to 79 completed the re-examination in 1998. A total of 61 cases were identified as demented (48 with AD). Coffee drinkers at midlife had lower risk of dementia and AD later in life compared with those drinking no or only a little coffee. The lowest risk (65% decreased) was found in people who drank 3-5 cups per day.
11. Another useful food/nutraceutical likely to prevent Alzheimer's is curry, particularly turmeric. "As the former President's death focuses attention on the degenerative brain condition that devastates memory, recent studies have shown that diets rich in curcumin, a compound found in the common Indian curry spice turmeric can help prevent Alzheimer's. In fact, American researchers reckon the high incidence of turmeric use is one reason why the disease is rare in India. Studies have noted that the elderly living in Indian villages appear to have the lowest incidence of Alzheimer's in the world, with just 1 per cent of those above 65 contracting it."
12. DRINK ALCOHOL IN MODERATION-A study of 1,074 people age 60 to 90 yrs in the Netherlands. Conclusion: Light-to-moderate alcohol intake (1 to 4 drinks per day) is associated with a lower prevalence of vascular brain findings and, in APOE 4 carriers, hippocampal and amygdalar atrophy on MRI.
ACTIVITIES
13. EXERCISE. There is good evidence that people need 30 min.per day equivalent to brisk walking to maintain health, 60 min to maintain your weight, and 90 min. to lose weight. But in this study, a high exercise level to maintain mental fitness required just 30 minutes of brisk walking 3 times per week, while the Surgeon General guideline is 5 times a week. Note that the exercise can be done in brief segments of a few minutes, as long as the 30 minute daily total is achieved.
14. Keep your blood pressure under control. Stroke is a well-known risk factor for vascular dementia. Systolic blood pressure >140 was most strongly associated with prevalent memory impairment. Exercise is an easy step to control blood pressure. In my essay on controlling blood pressure here, there is a list of 18 suggestions: FISH OIL, Vitamin D 2,000 IU daily. VITAMIN C - 500 mg twice a day , DASH diet AND EXERCISE, Berries , Tea, Nuts- Eating a handful on 4 days a week is minimal, OLIVE OIL , FIBER, Dark chocolate, Potassium, Probiotics - Yogurt, SOY, Avoid saturated fat. Vegetarian diet, TRANS-FATs in most snacks are the best way to get high blood pressure, Low Glycemic Index foods - This is another way to say be cautious about eating white foods, Calcium hazard - Though yogurt is good to reduce blood pressure, and dairy products may also be okay for blood pressure, too much calcium, such as supplements, is not good for blood pressure and may be hazardous.
15. Mental/Social activities - There are many activities that have been shown to improve and maintain brain function:
meditation, singing, social interactions, challenging mental activities like crossword puzzles, learning new things like a language, moving to a new environment. Note recently there has been a lot of debate about whether computer learning activities online have any value, though there is a lot of marketing of such games like Luminosity.

That's what I can recall now. If you have suggestions documented by peer-reviewed articles, please email ordman@beloit.edu so that I can add them to this list.

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