What we’re learning about genes, the brain and Alzheimer’s disease expands almost weekly. Researchers from Harvard University recently found that you can turn on brain-protective genes and protect your cognitive powers. How? When you stress your brain cells by actively and intensely using them they turn on a gene that produces the small protein complex NPAS4. NPAS4 repairs neuron damage and keeps your brain functioning more smoothly.

Another recent discovery is that a $4-a-month diuretic called bumetanide may prevent or reverse the influence of a major genetic risk factor for AD — APOE e4. Researchers looked at data on 1,300 Food and Drug Administration-approved generic drugs to see if they decreased the attachment of tau and amyloid to brain cells. They found that the water pill did just that in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s. They also found that in humans, two large databases indicated the diuretic decreased the risk of dementia by 70%.

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