There’s an enormous amount of research going on into the various forms of dementia right now.
According to NHS statistics, one in three people over 65 will develop it, and that means we’ll see a huge increase in the next couple of decades as the baby boomer generation moves into this age range. There is no cure, so it’s up to all of us to minimise our risk.
It’s been known for quite a while that using your brain helps to preserve brain power, but recent studies have shown that playing a musical instrument gives you some protection, and so does knowing more than one language. And other studies have shown up some new risk factors, like having dizzy spells, having strange dreams and having had a stroke. Sometimes poor circulation to the head is an obvious factor, but there are so many questions still to be asked, and answered.
On the herbal front, Ginkgo and Rosemary are particularly useful for boosting circulation and quelling inflammation, as well as improving cognitive functioning. We’ve known for a long time that regular moderate exercise helps, and a good varied diet with plenty of vegetables, but new studies have confirmed the importance of oily fish, nuts and seeds.
Turmeric, of course, has come in for a lot of attention, but other herbs and spices play their part too. I’d predict that various foods and herbs will come under scrutiny in the near future, and that the gut bacteria will be found to have a correlation with brain health as well. As always, new answers lead to new questions. In the meantime, there are plenty of useful guidelines here, and they boil down to the usual messages about a healthy lifestyle.