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The brain is a magnificent machine. Its performance can improve with age despite a reduction in the number of neurons. It is said that no machine can achieve this type of efficiency even as parts are taken away.

Despite the brain’s incredible abilities and plasticity (ability to change and perform throughout life), it won’t fulfill its potential if struck by disease. Losing neurons is a natural process of human development. Damage to blood vessel, protein build-up, and disease, which are associated with dementia, is not a natural process.

I work with families and patients with dementia. What I tell them is that there is no turning back because the changes they’ve undergone are irreparable. What they lost cannot be fixed by rewiring, unlike those precious neurons in healthy brains that give rise to our continued intellectual development even as we get older and have fewer of them.

In that case, we turn to something we can control: preventive measures. From living the good life, to playing stimulating games and getting good rest, there’s a lot we can do to help stop a disease that I characterize as being unfixable, unchangeable and unstoppable.

We can apparently add a diet of citrus fruits to our list of prevented measures, according to a new study.

The study indicates that eating citrus fruit frequently can reduce the risk of dementia by 23 percent. Japanese researchers followed the subjects for years, even accounting for potentially skewing factors, and still concluded this promising result.

Mandarin oranges were the most commonly consumed fruit in the years-long study. The tissue and juice contain a number of flavonoids, which can protect neurons in the brain. When a patient is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, abnormal deposits of proteins form plaques and tangles throughout the brain. This leads to once-healthy neurons to stop functioning correctly, and connections between the neurons begin to die off. These events lead to heartbreaking symptoms of memory loss, inability to reason and communicate and other cognitive deteriorations.

Scientists say they still need to do more research, but the initial results are promising and add to the list of preventive measures we can take to fight off this disease.

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