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Posted: April 19, 2011

Can a healthy lifestyle protect against Alzheimer’s?


Nathalie Sumien, PhDIt is commonly known that exercise and antioxidant intake can improve physical health. But could these factors decrease the chances of developing Alzheimer's disease?

Nathalie Sumien, PhD, assistant professor of Pharmacology and Neuroscience, recently received a two-year grant from the Alzheimer's Association to examine if a healthy lifestyle including exercising and taking antioxidant supplements will protect against declines in cognitive function.

In preliminary research, Sumien discovered that combinations of antioxidants such as vitamin E and coenzyme Q10, or vitamins E and C, have shown the most promise in reversing cognitive decline. Preliminary exercise research at the Health Science Center has shown that a moderate level of exercise training, such as easy jogging or swimming, can have a minor impact on cognitive function. However, recent studies have suggested a negative interaction of these two factors, where antioxidant intake abolished the beneficial effects of exercise.

Sumien's study will further explore the interactive effects of exercise and antioxidant supplementation on cognitive function in females. It will focus on whether exercise and consuming antioxidants have more of an impact when done early or later in life. Sumien is hopeful results of her study will allow her to determine whether antioxidant intake should be recommended for healthy aged and Alzheimer's patients engaging in moderate exercise.

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