I’m a super fan of the human brain. With 86 billion neurons, to it we owe everything that makes sentient life great. Our art, music, technology, feelings of joy, longing, melancholy -- all are thanks to the three-pound lump of fat sitting quietly behind our eyes. The flagship product of millions of years of evolution, it is (to borrow from a popular meme) much amaze, and so very wow.
Yet it’s under attack. Currently there are 5 million people in the US with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common (but not the only) form of dementia which robs us of the very essence of who we are, and, contrary to popular belief, is not a normal part of aging. That number is expected to triple by 2050. Recently, I’ve become increasingly frustrated by the lack of awareness at just how much control we have over our health outcomes, especially where the brain is concerned.
In August of this year, when Lancet Neurology published a study indicating that 1/3 of all Alzheimer’s cases worldwide may be caused by potentially modifiable risk factors (i.e., could have been prevented), it sounded the alarm that Alzheimer’s prevention was an idea worth taking seriously.
That point was driven home by the groundbreaking FINGER study, presented at this year’s Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, a randomized control trial featuring 1,260 older, at-risk adults. Half of the participants were given an exercise trainer and nutritional advice, and ended up staving off intellectual decline after only two years. “These findings show that prevention is possible, and that it may be good to start early,” the lead researcher Miia Kivipelto told TIME.
But how early? It’s known that changes in brain proteins and other related signals could be detected up to 25 years before the first Alzheimer’s symptom appears. This means that the time to start taking care of your brain is now.
I had the pleasure of visiting an expert recently to assess my own brain health, and the results of my session were documented in a fantastic piece and video. Anybody interested in Alzheimer’s prevention should check it out, and feel free to reach out with any questions.
Max will be speaking at Functional Forum's Evolution of Brain Health Summit on Oct. 6th at NeueHouse in NYC. Tickets can be found here.