A Treatment Plan for Alzheimer's, Beating Lower Back Pain & Why You Need Fiction!

The Weekly Dose - Episode 100

A Small Breakthrough in Alzheimer’s?!


We have no cure for Alzheimer’s at the time of writing this and whilst there are some drug treatments for the condition which are in the approval process, people are keen to find ways to take control of their own brain health.


Interestingly, there was a study published recently in the journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy that manipulating certain lifestyle factors improved cognitive function for older adults with early signs of Alzheimer’s in comparison to adults who did not change their habits.


It must be stated that this needs far more data given this was carried out in 49 adults with mild cognitive impairment but let’s dive into the study results:


49 adults with early Alzheimer’s – half adhered to a 20 week lifestyle boot camp; researchers then assessed blood biomarkers before and after.


1.     In the bootcamp group, 71% of patients cognitive function stayed the same or improved.

2.     In comparison no one improved in the control group

3.     68% participants function declined in the control group

4.     Amyloid in the brain (protein involved in Alzheimer’s) reduced in the habits group and increased in the control group


What were these “habits” adopted by half the patients?


1.     Diet: vegan diet rich in complex carbs, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, soy products, nuts and seeds.

2.    Exercise: 30 mins aerobic exercise a day (mainly walking). Also mild guided strength training classes 3x per week

3.    Stress reduction: 1hr per day, guided breathwork, yoga, meditation and/or stretching

4.    Connection: Participants and spouses attended 1hr group session with a mental health supervisor 3x per week

5.    Vitamins: supplements including omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin c, vitamin B12, magnesium and other minerals


This is not a cookie cutter recipe that everyone must follow but there are certainly some foundational basics here that will likely help with most people’s cognitive reserve long term!

Worth thinking about incorporating some elements of these in your habits, if you aren’t already.


Why You Should Read More Fiction

(if you can)


What You Should Read:

“Piranesi” – Susanna Clarke

I’ve challenged myself to read more this summer, especially more fiction. I’m already one book down (Piranesi) which I’ll review shortly. But this challenge sent me down a mini rabbit hole of the cognitive benefits of fiction vs non fiction and its effect, if any, on your brain.


So there are two large meta-analyses that I came across in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. The first looked into the results of a study that measured cognitive function for people who read various types of fiction.

In the first meta-analysis, which included data from 70 studies and more than 11,000 participants, the researchers found that reading fiction had a small but "statistically significant" positive effect on subjects' cognition.

In particular, the people in that cohort who read more fiction seemed to better empathize with others and understand the way they thought.

That analysis also found that reading fiction was more impactful compared to either doing nothing or watching fiction on a screen than it was when held up against reading nonfiction.

The other meta analysis took data from a longitudinal study that correlated lifelong fiction readership with cognitive outcomes ranging from abstract thinking and reasoning skills to the ability to empathize with others.

The second meta-analysis, which included 114 studies and more than 30,000 participants, found an even more substantial positive correlation between reading fiction and cognitive abilities, especially when it came to verbal skills, reasoning, abstract thinking, and problem-solving. Like with the first analysis, the researchers found a general trend towards better emotional cognitive abilities like empathizing, though that correlation wasn't as pronounced.

TL:DR both meta-analyses demonstrated similar trends: That people who read a lot of fiction have better cognitive skills than people who read little or no fiction.

Now my first fiction read this summer was Piranesi – if you’re a fan of fantasy/mild magic realism and something a bit mind bending (don’t worry it’s not dragons or vampires or Harry Potter type lore) this book is for you. It’s actually incredibly well written and its one of those “unputdownable” books. In fact I finished it in 24 hours (240 odd pages).



Use Science To Raise Good Kids….


I don’t have children (or a wife) but I would like both very soon in my life. In any case I’m always interested in science around child development so

a) I can see if my parents did any of that raising me (whether accidentally or intentionally) and

b) so I can apply the things I learn to hopefully one day raising my own children.


One thing I came across was the Harvard Grant Study which has been running since 1938 (longest running longitudinal study in history). This study identified two key things that enable adults to be happy and successful.


454 inner city kids were followed up for 70 years, and mental health, resilience, addiction and self esteem were all tracked.


One of the biggest associations that was found was the association between working as a child correlation with self esteem.

Consistently giving responsibility to your children led to higher self esteem. When everything is done for your children, you’re setting them up for struggle later in life.


So: get your child involved in all aspects of running your home (cleaning, cooking, garden work) – and you can get them started as early as 18 months

Get your children volunteering in your local community if possible and even having a part time job in teen years can be crucial to develop feelings of competency and developing responsibility.

Periods Around The World…


I came across an interesting thread of Twitter (X) a while back. It outlined all the euphemisms different cultures use for periods around the world..


French: ketchup week, strawberry season

German: Red army has arrived (referring the Soviet Union), Monthly oil change

Italian: I have a flood

Portuguese: The basin is broken, the soccer team is playing at home (in red shirts)

Spanish: red traffic light, defrosting the steak

Finnish: Japan is attacking

Danish: Aunt red is here

English: Shark week, Aunt Flow, Code Red


What are some interesting euphemistic phrases in your language?



What The Hell Did I Do In Munich?


A little life update.


Apologies for the lack of newsletter last week, I was in Munich Thursday night to Monday morning last week and caught a stomach bug so was incapacitated last Sunday hence no newsletter!


I actually didn’t travel to Munich for the Euros, in fact I didn’t even realise the opening game was in Munich until the day before I travelled! On arrival I was met with throngs of Scottish fans drinking away in the airport!


My trip in Munich was far more sober and sedate – I remember when I was younger, I hated travelling around and seeing cultural attractions, museums and art with my parents but now I revel in these things.


I took the time to ingest some European art at the “Alte Pinakotheke” which just cost 1 euro to get entry into! I spent 3 hours enjoying a free audio tour of the various paintings on my iPhone and spent the few days sampling some great German food! (baked goods in German are top tier… highly recommend a “laugencroissant” if you’re ever there).


I also met my German publishers who are planning to release the German version in 2 weeks time!


P.S if you’ve enjoyed any of my videos, posts or even newsletter – you’ll definitely love my book “This Book May Save Your Life”. Amazon have kept a very health 45% discount going for now, so grab it while you can whilst it’s discounted (or use a free audible credit to listen to the audiobook for free!)


If you have read it, I would massively appreciate a review on Amazon – every little helps!


Now I’m back in the UK, it’s business as usual. I’ve got more interesting podcast guests lined up all the way to August! So do keep an eye out for the weekly Friday episodes of the “Dr Karan Explores” podcast which you can listen to on all the usual audio platforms and if you wanted to see my ugly mug, you can view the entire video version on my Youtube channel.


Links here to audio and video:


If You’ve Got Back Pain… Listen Up!


I love interesting new research that has real life applicability. Like this (especially since I’ve been dealing with my own bout of lower back pain after a gym injury)


Around 800 million people worldwide have low back pain and 7 in 10 who recover experience flare ups within a year.


The new research from Australia which was published in the Lancet showed that walking 3 times a week can almost halve the risk of recurrence. You don’t even need to be walking 5 or 10km every day to get these benefits.


3-5 times a week, for an average of 130 minutes a week allowed people to remain pain free for nearly twice as long compared with those who did not receive any treatment.


This study was a randomised controlled trial assessing the effectiveness of walking to prevent low back pain recurrence and followed 701 adults for 3 years who recently had an episode of low back pain.


Half were assigned to a walking scheme and education sessions from a physio, the other half assigned to a control group with no specific intervention.


The intervention group had fewer occurrences of activity limiting pain vs control group and longer periods before a recurrence (208 days vs 112 days)


Why is walking good for back pain? We don’t really know but likely to be a combination of gentle oscillatory movements, loading the spinal structure and muscles as well as the stress relief from walking.



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