The fight against Alzheimer’s disease continues, as researchers around the world strive to make medical advancements that would allow the patients to keep their mental acuity for as long as possible.
According to a new research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association’s International Conference, Toronto, it’s possible that interaction with other people and a job that is mentally demanding can protect against the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Two separate studies focused on social engagement and complex work and the way they impact mental disorders. They also looked to see if they can offset the effects of cerebrovascular disease and unhealthy diet on cognition.
One of the studies found that cognitive decline is associated with a “Western” diet (including sweets, processed and red meats, potatoes, white bread, and pre-packaged foods). However, people who consumed this type of food could counter the negative effects by leading a mentally stimulating life.
The highest levels of protections were found among occupations such as lawyer, social worker, teacher, doctor, and engineer. People who were cashiers, laborers, machine operators, and grocery shelf stockers were found to benefit of the lowest cognitive protections.
Matthew Parrott, a post-doctoral researcher at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, was the one to present the study at the conference.
He said that “you can never totally forget about the importance of a good diet, but in terms of your risk of dementia, you are better able to accommodate some of the brain damage that is associated with consuming this kind of (unhealthy) diet.”
The second study found that people were more likely to tolerate Alzheimer’s-related damage if their work involved interaction with other people, instead of things or data.
“Mentoring” occupations – such as physician, school counselor, social worker, psychologist, and pastor – were found to be the most ‘brain-protective.’
Least complex jobs, on the other hand, are those who involve taking instructions or help from others, according to Elizabeth Boots, a University of Wisconsin research specialist, and the study’s presenting author.
“By showing that cognitive reserve is already at work early in the disease process, we believe this could have potential implications for early intervention, such as identifying those with potentially lower reserve and suggesting ways to boost that reserve in some way,” Boots added.
Image Source: Psychology Careers