There has been a lot of back page news that is exciting for brain health. You probably didn’t see it.
Not your fault, really.
If there is a big brain health benefit from something lifestyle-related like physical activity, nutrition, or sleep, it gets buried in the back pages.
If there is a tiny or small brain health benefit from a drug, it gets as much coverage as the moon landing.
To Catch You Up
Just in case you missed it, to summarize: In an 18-month drug trial of lecanemab on 1800 people with moderate Alzheimer’s disease, patients receiving the drug scored a half-point better than the placebo group on an 18-point dementia test involving memory, judgment and other areas.
I’ll pause while you recover from the shock. The half-point improvement was “statistically significant,” but potentially not noticeable to patients.
A half-point improvement that is barely noticeable (that will cost you $26,500 USD per year, by the way).
That’s what counts for “big” news these days when it comes to drug treatments for Alzheimer’s.
Now for the Actually Big News
As just one example: High-intensity cycling for 6 minutes increased the amount of circulating BDNF up to 5 times more than 90-minute sessions of low intensity cycling.
This study was small – only 12 people (but hey, it’s hard to find people to do low-intensity cycling for Ninety Minutes. I like cycling well-enough, but planting my butt on a bike seat for 90 minutes? No thanks) – but there is a mountain of research on the benefits of BDNF and how tremendously protective it is of brain health. (Here’s the study for you deeply curious types – Journal of Physiology)
Imagine if a drug showed the kind of improvement to brain health that exercise and other lifestyle factors do. I think people would pass out on fainting couches like in the old days.
This repeating pattern of Beatle-mania-like excitement over a “meh” level of improvement from an expensive drug is puzzling and is indicative of some deep dysfunction with our priorities as a society.
But I can’t fix that. I can only help you help yourself.
Stay true to sound lifestyle choices and feel some security in the knowledge that you’re doing the best you can for your brain and body.
This is fundamentally about mindset: Wait until you are sick and take expensive drugs or live day-in, day-out in a way that supports health and vitality.