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Winter 2018
Happy New Year
Season's Greetings!
Welcome to this winter edition of the PROTECT newsletter. We hope you are all well and looking forward to 2019.
Update on the study
This time last year we asked you to introduce PROTECT to friends and neighbours, with many of you raising awareness to our important work through word of mouth and social media posts - thanks Facebook! With 2,000 new participants enrolling in 2018 and over half a million of assessments having been completed since PROTECT was first launched, we would like to extend our thanks to each and every one of you for your continuous dedication and for helping us get a step closer to reaching 50,000 participants.
Annual PROTECT Main study assessments: Each year, over 10,000 participants return to PROTECT in the months of November and December to complete their annual assessments. To ensure we are able to support you swiftly and efficiently during this busy time, we have decided to defer these late-in-the-year assessments to the months of January and February, 2019. This means that you won't have to complete any assessments over the busy holiday season!
In the unlikely event you are asked to complete an assessment over the holidays please feel free to defer it to the New Year. All we would ask is that you ignore any automated email reminders as we cannot turn them off. Please note, once you have submitted (not completed!) the first part of either of the Cognitive Assessments, we ask that you submit the three parts within one week of each other so please begin these when this is most feasible.
We are also pleased to announce that we will be introducing new assessments including more opportunities to take part in exciting research over the coming year – more will be revealed in due course!
Kings College London closure dates: King’s College London and with it the PROTECT study helpdesk, will be closing at 16:00 on Friday the 21st of December for the holiday period. Our helpdesk will re-open on the 2nd of January 2019. Should you need assistance during this time, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions section on the PROTECT webpage.
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Your dedication and support have been the key ingredients to PROTECT’s success. Thank you for a great 2018!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at PROTECT!
Latest news
Lifestyle Changes For A Healthy Brain
6 Pillars
A study published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association concluded that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline and maintain a healthy brain for longer by making positive lifestyle changes. As such, and since we are officially in the holiday season, we thought we would recreate the “12 Days of Christmas” and introduce 12 of our favourite lifestyle tips and how they’ve been found to help maintain, and in some cases improve, brain health:
  1. Learn a second (or third, or fourth) language
That’s right, along with raising cultural awareness and expanding cultural horizons, knowing another language may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by 4 years. Although these benefits were seen in people who use two languages on a daily basis, learning a second language has been found to have a positive effect on the brain by slowing its ageing - even if it is taken up in adulthood!  Find a course locally or, even better, download an app on your computer or phone.
  1. Limit your sugar intake
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that a diet of high sugar intake contributes to faster rates of cognitive decline and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Too much sugar is also linked to type 2 diabetes, a known risk factor for dementia. Lower your sugar intake and manage your blood sugar levels to help keep your brain healthy.
  1. Add blueberries to your diet
Blueberries, a ‘’super fruit’’ high in anthocyanins, were found to improve memory and cognitive function in older adults who were beginning to show signs of mild cognitive impairment — a risk factor for dementia. Eat blueberries and other red-blue coloured fruit and vegetables, such as beetroot and aubergines, to increase your intake of anthocyanins.
  1. Drink Less Alcohol
Although drinking moderate amounts of red wine has been found to lower the risk of dementia in some people, the Alzheimer’s Society warns that drinking too much alcohol may increase ones risk of developing the condition. If you regularly drink more than 14 units a week try setting yourself a limit and take advantage of particular dates (like the New Year!) to make a resolution to drink less.
  1. Reduce stress
We all know long-term anxiety can have a detrimental impact on our health, but a 2014 study linked high levels of anxiety in people with mild cognitive impairment to a 134% increase in the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s. A more recent study involving data from 30,000 people found that those who suffered moderate to severe anxiety in mid-life were more likely to develop dementia years later. Take steps to de-stress your life and maintain low-levels of anxiety. How? Keep on reading..
  1. Make time for meditation
Mindfulness, a meditative practice, was found to be twice as better at reducing stress than gardening (not that you should stop gardening!), and is recommended by the NHS as a good way to reduce anxiety. In fact, individuals who perform regular meditation, including yoga, have been shown to have less brain atrophy and increased protective brain tissue.
  1. Commit to regular exercise
One of the first parts of the brain to be affected by Alzheimer’s is the hippocampus, a small organ with a major role in learning and memory. Regular physical exercise has been found to contribute to the preservation of this part of the brain, meaning it could potentially delay cognitive decline and the onset of the disease. A brisk walk, swimming or even digging in the garden are all good exercises to choose from. Just remember to aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week!
  1. Quit smoking
If you want to decrease your risk of developing dementia, stop smoking! That’s the message from the World Health Organisation (WHO) who reported that 14% of Alzheimer’s disease cases around the world are potentially attributed to smoking.
  1. Identify early dementia symptoms
By learning and recognizing the symptoms as early as possible means an individual will be better prepared and have more chances to benefit from available therapies. Some of the signs to look out for include losing track of dates, poor language and trouble completing familiar tasks.
  1. Sleep better
Trouble falling or staying asleep, poor sleep quality, and short or long sleep duration are gaining attention as potential risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia. Although mechanisms underlying these associations are not yet clear, healthy sleep appears to play an important role in maintaining brain health with age. Need to improve your “sleep hygiene”? Take a look at this handy guide for better sleep.
  1. Get Socialising
According to research, activities that are both socially and cognitively engaging might have a protective effect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in men, particularly those at elevated genetic risk for the disease. Although the study did not include any females, the results extended previous research showing the beneficial impact of similar activities on dementia risk in women. So, take up volunteering, go travelling, join a sports club (e.g. golf, tai chi) or get involved in a community project.
  1. Take control of your health
Any time is a good time to start taking care of your health. Did you know that 70% of people over the age of 70 have some form of hearing loss?  If you’re not already doing so, it’s important to see your GP if you’re worried about a health problem whether its depression, hearing loss, or not getting enough sleep. Although the links are not yet clear, any of these issues can increase your risk of cognitive issues, including dementia.
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Do you have a resolution to maintain a healthy brain? Which of the recommended ideas do you already do, or would you be interested in taking up in 2019? You can share your thoughts and ideas with us via our email or by using the "Contact Us" page on the website. We would love to hear from you!
Helpful reminders about the PROTECT study
- We will never ask you for nor need to know what your password is. No other service provider i.e. your bank, supermarket or phone company should ever ask for nor need to know your password either. If you are locked out of your account or if we need to track your account down to assist you with a query, we will only ever ask for your seven digit User ID or your email address.
- If you haven’t yet had the chance to look at our previous newsletters, or if you would like to have another browse, please feel free to view these online here. You can also read up on fascinating findings from an array of other scientific fields (schizophrenia, addictions, autism and much more), through our PROTECT Newsfeed:
Changes agead
Along with 2018, we will soon by saying goodbye to Maria who will be leaving the PROTECT team to follow her dream of becoming an Educational Psychologist. The helpdesk will be passed over to the very capable hands of Chris Albertyn and Becca Thomas who cannot wait to get to know you!
‘’Thank you all – participants and informants - for your dedication to advancing dementia research. It has been great working with each and every one of you! Very Best Wishes for a fabulous 2019.’’ Maria
Contact us
As always, please do not hesitate to contact the Helpdesk team if you have any queries or comments. You can do this by using the "Contact Us" page on the website, or by calling or emailing us directly.

T: 020 7848 8185