It seems like every day, when I check my news feed, I see the results of yet another study showing how people with MCI can halt or reverse their cognitive loss.
It’s encouraging to see these successes. These are people with MCI doing one specific thing that the researchers want them to do, and getting a result.
But for the best result, you don’t want to do what these people are doing, or what the scientists are doing. You want to do exactly the opposite. And that’s what I walk to talk about today.
Hi, I’m Tony Dearing, of GoCogno.com, the website for people with mild cognitive impairment.
So just in the past few weeks, two new studies have come out involving drinks infused with brain-healthy nutrients. People with MCI took those drinks and their cognition improved. These are major studies, published in major journals. So this is a big deal. (Links to news about the two studies are included at the bottom of the article.)
I’ll be talking more about both of these drinks in the future. But today, I want to talk to you about a concept that I think is way more important than the results of any particular study.
It has to do with what scientists call “confounding” factors.
So let me explain. Scientists are looking for one answer. They want to give you one thing — one medicine, one nutrient, one lifestyle change — and after six months, if your cognition improves, they want to be able to say it was because of that one thing they gave you.
But maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was something else you were doing. Or several other things that you were doing. For researchers, that’s a problem. They want to strip out all these other things, these so-called “confounding” factors that may have been the real reason you did better.
But what about you? What do you want? You just want to get better, right? And to do that, you don’t want to approach it the way a scientist does. You don’t want to discount anything that might contribute to your success. And you don’t want to put all your focus on looking for one solution.
Because for most people, there isn’t one answer. We are really beginning to understand what allows people with MCI to slow, or halt or reverse cognitive decline, and rarely is it one thing. Usually, it’s a combination of things.
That’s how you want to approach it. As long as they’re working for you, you want as many confounding factors as possible. You want to confound the hell out of your MCI. You want to go after it in a bunch of ways, and know that it’s some combination of them that’s likely to be the answer for you.
In fact, even scientists are headed in that direction. They’re beginning to do combination studies. There’s saying, hey, instead of just trying one thing, let’s put two or three things together, and see how that works. It turns out, that works great.
One of the first and most famous of these is the FINGER study, which combined diet, exercise, brain training, social engagement and managing vascular risks. It involved more than 1,200 people and got tremendous results.
Which is great. But for these people who got those results, what was it that worked for them? Was it the exercise? Was it the diet? Was it the brain training? The answer is, yes. All of the above.
Doing them in combination is what made them most powerful. And there’s nothing confounding about that. Every single thing these people did is available to you. It worked for them. Put it to work for you.
Thanks for joining me today, and I’ll see you again next week. Until then, as always, be kind to your mind.
P.S. — If you want to read more about the latest studies I refer to in this video, check out these new items: