Start now to reduce your risk of developing dementia

Pamela J. Myers, Alzheimer’s Association NW and Central Ohio

        New research reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC ®) 2022 covered the breadth of Alzheimer’s and dementia research, including the basic biology of aging and the brain, risk factors and prevention strategies, and caregiving and living well with the disease.
        AAIC is the premier annual forum for presentation and discussion of the latest Alzheimer’s and dementia research. This year’s hybrid conference event took place both virtually and in-person in San Diego and attracted over 9,500 attendees and included more than 4,000 scientific presentations.
        “With record public and private research investment it’s an exciting time for Alzheimer’s and dementia research,” said Heather M. Snyder, Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association vice president of medical and scientific relations. “Researchers are advancing our understanding of the disease by exploring biomarkers, discovering potential ways to reduce risk, and working to move promising treatments and diagnostic tools forward into clinical testing. The Alzheimer’s Association is leading the fight through funding, convening, publishing, partnerships, advocacy and services.”
        Ultra-processed foods may speed cognitive decline
        A study presented at AAIC 2022 finds that people who eat large amounts of ultra-processed foods have a faster decline in cognition. Researchers studied 10,775 people over eight years and found that high consumption (more than 20% of daily intake) of ultra-processed foods led to a 28% faster decline in global cognitive scores, including memory, verbal fluency and executive function.
        Ultra-processed foods go through significant industrial processes and contain large quantities of fats, sugar, salt, artificial flavors/colors, stabilizers and/or preservatives. Examples include sodas, breakfast cereals, white bread, potato chips and frozen “junk” foods.
        An increase in the availability and consumption of fast, processed and ultra-processed foods is due to a number of socioeconomic factors, including low access to healthy foods, less time to prepare foods from scratch, and inability to afford whole food options. 
        Ultra-processed foods make up more than half of American diets. There are steps we can take to reduce risk of cognitive decline as we age. These include eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting good sleep, staying cognitively engaged, protecting from head injury, not smoking and managing heart health. Research suggests that these lifestyle changes in combination may have the greatest benefit and are good to consider at any age.
        Even if you begin with one or two healthful actions, you’re moving in the right direction. It’s never too early or too late to incorporate these habits into your life.
        The Alzheimer’s Association is committed to advancing research in this important area and is conducting the U.S.
Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk study, known as U.S. POINTER. This two-year clinical trial will evaluate whether lifestyle interventions that simultaneously target multiple risk factors can protect cognitive function in older adults aged 60-79 who are at increased risk for cognitive decline. This is the first such study to be conducted in a large, diverse group of Americans.
        To learn more about Alzheimer’s and dementia research, visit to or download the ALZ Science HUB app to your smartphone.
        The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Its mission is to lead the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Visit or call 1-800-272-3900 for more details.
        Pamela Myers is a program manager at the Alzheimer’s Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter. Visit or call 800-272-3900 for more information about Alzheimer’s Association programs and services.


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