This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
A rapidly growing library of scientific evidence continues to emerge that demonstrates there are a number of lifestyle changes that we can make as young and middle-aged adults that can significantly lower our risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers from the Barcelona Biomedical Research Institute in Spain, publishing in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, have found that the combination of two neuroprotective therapies, voluntary physical exercise and the daily intake of melatonin, have a synergistic effect against brain deterioration in several common variants of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study authors found that regular voluntary exercise and daily intake of melatonin, both of which are known for the effects they have in regulating circadian rhythm, show a synergistic effect against brain deterioration that leads to the memory-robbing disease in a mouse model predisposed to develop the illness. Lead author, Dr. Coral Sanfeliu commented, “For years we have known that the combination of different anti-aging therapies such as physical exercise, a Mediterranean diet, and not smoking adds years to one’s life… now it seems that melatonin, the sleep hormone, also has important anti-aging effects.”
To determine the effect of physical activity and melatonin supplementation on developing Alzheimer’s dementia, researchers divided the genetically-predisposed mice into three control groups and compared them to animals that had no known inclination to develop dementia. The animals were designated to undergo different treatment protocols including exercise by allowing unrestricted use of a running wheel, melatonin supplementation with a dose equivalent to 10 mg per kg of body weight, and a combination of melatonin and voluntary physical exercise.
After a period of six months the study authors concluded, “The state of the mice undergoing treatment was closer to that of the mice with no mutations than to their own initial pathological state. From this we can say that the disease has significantly regressed.” The genetically predisposed mice demonstrated a general improvement in behavior, learning, and memory with the three treatments. It should be noted that mice are commonly used for this type of research as they share similar neurobiology characteristics with humans.
Numerous prior studies have highlighted the importance of supplementation with melatonin (1 to 5 mg taken 30 minutes before bedtime) to encourage natural sleep rhythms and to help lower risks from cancer and cardiovascular disease. We can now add the combination of regular physical activity and melatonin supplementation to the growing list of health benefits, as the therapy is shown to provide another potent tool in the battle to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.