As a high-powered lawyer at the top of her game, Evelyne had always been efficient, authoritative and in control.
But when she reached 60, she reluctantly began to accept that her mind wasn’t as sharp as it once had been.
She found herself increasingly confounded by a nagging sense of confusion and exhaustion — and started second-guessing some of her decisions.
But when Evelyne found herself going completely blank in the middle of an important presentation, she knew something was very wrong.
Evelyne is typical of the thousands of patients we have seen over the course of the 20 years we have spent studying Alzheimer’s disease.
As a neurologist husband-and-wife team, together we run the prestigious Memory and Ageing Centre at Loma Linda University in California — a hospital that is dedicated to cutting-edge research into the condition.
By 2025, there will be more than one million people in the UK with dementia
As doctors at the very peak of our profession, we have worked at some of the world’s leading hospitals and have dedicated our careers to finding a cure for this devastating disease.
While other chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and strokes are in decline, cases of Alzheimer’s disease are rising.
It’s now the leading cause of death in the UK — overtaking heart disease in 2016. Indeed, for many of us the question is no longer if we will get the disease, but when.
Today, women over 60 in the UK are twice as likely to get dementia as breast cancer, and the risk of developing it doubles every five years after the age of 65.
By 2025, there will be more than one million people in the UK with dementia.
But now, thanks to years of exhaustive research, we firmly believe we have found a scientifically backed way to reduce your risk and keeping your brain sharper for longer.
Our method could even help to reduce some of the symptoms of dementia after it has started to develop.
The key is a personalised lifestyle plan, which we’ve called the Alzheimer’s Solution — the name of our book and the basis of this Mail series.
It identifies your individual risk of getting the disease and then helps you to minimise these risks through simple tweaks to your lifestyle.
Our plan focuses on five key areas that can really make a difference: diet, exercise, sleep, stress and brain training (exercises shown to help boost the brain, such as Sudoku or learning a language).
All next week in the Mail, we’ll be showing you how to make your own plan in order to help you protect yourself.
Start now by taking the quiz on the right, which will highlight the areas of your lifestyle that may be putting you at risk.
Then use the free, 24-page glossy magazine we’re giving away today to record your scores. (If your copy of the magazine isn’t in the plastic bag with Weekend, email your name and address to helpline@daily mail.co.uk or call 0808 272 0808, from 7am to 7pm, and we’ll send you one.) This magazine — which is also packed with delicious brain-friendly recipes — will then allow you to formulate a plan that could help to protect you from the disease.
By tailoring your new regimen to your lifestyle, you’ll super-charge its effectiveness.
Throughout our careers we’ve treated thousands of patients and helped them to reverse some of the symptoms of dementia and added years to their lives.
Take Evelyne. Just two months after her first visit to us, tests showed that her short-term memory had improved by 30 per cent and her attention score by 50 per cent.
In a very short space of time, she was seeing a reversal of some of her symptoms.
So how does our plan actually work?
When we started on this quest for an Alzheimer’s cure, we assumed any solution would come in the form of a pill.
But after conducting one of the most comprehensive reviews ever into scientific studies that show the causes of dementia, we are convinced that many cases can be put down to a poor diet consisting of heavily processed food — with an emphasis on sugar and meat — combined with a sedentary, sleep-deprived and stressful lifestyle.
What’s more, the data we looked at (which comprised thousands of studies) convinced us that lifestyle changes that are beneficial to the heart and kidneys also appear to be beneficial to the brain.
That’s why our Alzheimer’s Solution works. It draws on 15 years’ worth of published research from around the globe.
We’ve guided thousands of people through the highly personalised process of lifestyle change throughout our careers — and the overall effects have been profound.
Jerry, for example, came to us with an early diagnosis of vascular dementia, desperate for a solution. We looked in detail at his lifestyle — and then prescribed exercise.
He started pedalling very gently on a stationary bike in front of his TV each day and saw immediate improvements in his mood and memory.
This spurred him on to make further lifestyle adjustments. He decided to take steps to improve his sleep, diet and stress levels — and within a year, a scan of his brain showed rather profound improvements.
‘I was stuck in a parallel universe,’ he told us. ‘But now I’m back with everyone else.’
He is proof that our plan works. And to say these findings changed the course of our lives as doctors would be a complete understatement.
Our discoveries have wholly altered the way that we think about dementia, cognitive health and the future of Alzheimer’s treatment.
There may still be no cure for Alzheimer’s but, with the right advice, we can be mentally active for longer, reverse the debilitating symptoms of the disease and ultimately add more happy, healthy years to our lives.
The best part is that our plan is so simple you can make immediate changes in the sure knowledge that you are launching your own personal fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Dean Sherzai And Dr Ayesha Sherzai’s research draws on 15 years’ worth of published research from around the globe
FROM SLEEP TO STRESS: OUR 5-STEP ALZHEIMER’S BUSTING PLAN
1. We found that eating meat is bad for your brain, which requires vegetables, fruit, pulses, grains and healthy fats to thrive.
We therefore recommend a plant-based diet low in sugar, salt and processed foods.
2. Physical exercise increases both the number of brain cells and the connections between them. We suggest maintaining an active lifestyle that incorporates movement every hour — not just a quick stop at the gym after an otherwise sedentary day at the office, for example.
3. Chronic stress puts the brain in a state of high inflammation, causing structural damage and impairing its ability to clear toxins. We recommend meditation, yoga, breathing exercises and time outside.
4. Restorative sleep is essential for health so it’s important to aim for seven to eight hours a night.
5. Puzzles and other complex activities protect your brain against decline.
Social support and engagement with your community can also have a clear and undeniable influence on the way in which your brain ages.
And activities such as playing music are great for challenging and engaging many of the brain’s capacities.
Adapted by Louise Atkinson from The Alzheimer’s Solution: A Revolutionary Guide To How You Can Prevent And Reverse Memory Loss by Dr Dean Sherzai and Dr Ayesha Sherzai, published by Simon & Schuster on October 5 at £14.99. © Dr Dean Sherzai and Dr Ayesha Sherzai 2017. To order a copy for £10.49 (offer valid to October 7, 2017), visit mailbookshop.co.uk or call 0844 571 0640. P&P is free on orders over £15.
HOW AT RISK ARE YOU? TAKE THIS QUIZ AND FIND OUT
This quiz will help you understand precisely why you might be at risk of Alzheimer’s — and establish what you need to do to change your health for the better.
A higher, positive score indicates a greater risk of Alzheimer’s, while a lower, negative score shows greater protection against Alzheimer’s. Make sure you cut out and keep this quiz, as you’ll need it for the rest of the series next week.
These questions aim to measure the risk factors for Alzheimer’s that you cannot change, such as age and your family history.
Give yourself points for your age (the older you are, the greater your risk of developing Alzheimer’s).
Less than 65 years old (+1)
Now add up the points for each question below:
Do you have family members with a history of Alzheimer’s or dementia at 65 or older?
- Yes, your brother and/or sister (+2 for each)
Do you have family members with a history of Alzheimer’s or dementia before age 65?
- Yes, your brother and/or sister (+2 for each)
Do you have family members who have suffered a stroke or heart disease?
- Yes, your brother and/or sister (+1 for each)
TOTAL SCORE FOR PART A: ……….
THESE questions aim to measure the risk factors for Alzheimer’s that you can change, like diet and exercise.
DEDUCT points as shown for healthy foods you have consumed every day in the last two years. Add points as shown for less healthy favourites.
- Wholegrains, like brown rice or lentils, two to three servings per day (−2)
- Sugar, more than six teaspoons a day (+4). Add a point for each additional teaspoon over six.
- Meat, more than once a week (+3)
- Dairy (1 pint of milk or yoghurt, or 125g cheese or butter) and eggs, more than once a week (+4)
- Processed, packaged foods (+2)
- Supplement: Omega-3 oil (−2)
- Supplement: Turmeric (−2)
- More than four alcoholic drinks per week (+2)
If you have made at least six healthy dietary changes in the past two weeks and plan to stick to them, then deduct five points.
DIET SCORE: ……..
In the last five years, you’ve spent three hours or more per day sitting (+5)
You have always done at least 120 minutes per week of exercise that makes you short of breath (−20)
OR, in the last two years you have been doing at least 120 minutes per week of strenuous aerobic exercise (−10)
If you have made at least six healthy exercise changes in the past two weeks and plan to stick to them, then deduct five points.
EXERCISE SCORE: ……..
- You have done 20–30 minutes of mindful relaxation every day for the last ten years (−10)
OR you’ve done 20–30 minutes of mindful relaxation every day for the last two years (−5)
- You have had long walks for at least 120 minutes per week in the last ten or more years (−10)
OR you have had long walks (at least 120 minutes per week) in the last two years (−5)
- You have suffered from lifelong stress or anxiety (+10)
OR you’ve suffered from stress in the last five years (+8)
OR you’ve suffered from stress in the last few months (+2)
If you have made at least six healthy, stress-related changes in the past two weeks and plan to stick to them, deduct five points.
STRESS SCORE: …….
- You have had good, restorative sleep for seven to eight hours per night for the last ten years (−16)
OR you have had good sleep for seven to eight hours per night for the last two years (−5)
- You have had multiple years with sleep apnoea without intervention (+16)
- You have had multiple years with a sleep disorder such as insomnia (+4)
- You have had multiple years using sleep medications (+4)
If you have made at least six sleep-related changes to improve the quality of your sleep in the past two weeks and plan to stick to them, then deduct five points.
SLEEP SCORE: ……..
CHALLENGING YOUR BRAIN
- You have practised daily mental challenges, such as puzzles, throughout your life (−20)
OR you have had a complex job which challenges thinking and reasoning and which is also enjoyable for more than ten years (−16)
OR you have done challenging mental activity for several hours daily or daily brain games for the last ten years (−10)
- You have had a lack of mental activity in the last ten years or more (+10)
- You have had a lack of mental activity in the last two years (+4)
CHALLENGING YOUR BRAIN SCORE: ……..
- You have had a significant level of social activity (three or more extensive conversations per week, on separate days, with one or more people) for the last ten years or more (−16)
OR you have experienced a significant level of social activity in the last two years (−6)
OR you have had minimal social activity (less than three extensive conversations per week, on separate days, with one or more people) for the last ten years or more (+10)
n You have had a lack of satisfying close relationships (those that result in positive emotions) in the last two years (+2)
SOCIAL ACTIVITY SCORE: ……..
If you have made at least six changes in the categories of challenging your brain and social activity, such as increasing mental challenges, in the past two weeks and plan to stick to them, deduct five points.
TOTAL SCORE FOR MAKING CHANGES: ……..
… AND ANY OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS
ADD up the points for medical conditions for which you do NOT currently receive treatment.
- Long history of diabetes (poorly controlled) (+10)
- Uncontrolled diabetes in the last two years (+6)
- History of minor stroke (+4)
- History of mini stroke (+2)
- History of heart disease (+4)
- History of atrial fibrillation (+1)
- History of lung disease (+4)
- Long history of depression (+6)
OR depression in the last 2 years (+2)
- Long history of anxiety (+6)
OR anxiety in the last 2 years (+2)
- Currently smoking cigarettes (+2)
- Smoked for more than ten years (+4)
- Overweight with a body mass index of more than 30 (to find your BMI, use the online calculator at nhs.uk/tools/pages/healthyweightcalculator.aspx) (+4)
HEALTH PROBLEMS SCORE: ……..
If you have made at least two changes, such as seeking medical support for long-term conditions, in the last two weeks and plan to stick to them, deduct five points.
TOTAL SCORE FOR PART B: ……..
NOW, add up your points for each part and make a note of your score in the chart on page 4 of your Personal Plan workbook.
The highest number for a category indicates the lifestyle factor that puts you most at risk of dementia — and the one you have the greatest potential to improve.
Also compare the score in part A with the score in part B. A high score in part A, the risk factors you cannot change, means lifestyle intervention is especially key for you. A high score in part B, the risk factors you can change, means you have many opportunities to reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.