Q: I have a family history of early-onset cognitive impairment. Is there anything I can do to reduce my risks?
A: Absolutely, there are steps that you should be taking. People often speak about dementia as unavoidable, but research has shown a few key factors contributing to the disease development. Understanding how cognitive impairment develops can help you to make changes that could prevent the disease.
Dementia occurs because of damage to certain parts of the brain, although genetics can increase risk. Research has shown that inflammation may be at the root of most dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. There are certain nutrient deficits that can increase your risk of brain inflammation.
Ensuring your diet includes foods rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components such as those found in fruits, nuts, vegetables, and spices may help reduce your risk of developing cognitive impairment. Inflammation can also be triggered by certain environmental pollutants and head trauma.
An Ayurvedic herb called Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) is a potent brain anti-inflammatory. Research has shown that this herb may help reduce acute and chronic brain inflammation that may in turn help reduce dementia risk. Another benefit of this herb is that it may also help improve memory in healthy individuals, providing added nootropic effect while working to reduce dementia.
Vinpocetine, a derivative of a periwinkle alkaloid, is also worth consideration for prevention of dementia. It is a potent anti-inflammatory in the brain with minimal side effects. It also provides benefits for circulation which can help in reducing other disease risks. Vinpocetine’s original clinical use is for improving recovery post stroke.