How a purpose can fight dementia

What's your purpose in life?

No, I'm not writing about philosophy this week. This is a health issue -- because having something to keep you going can, well, keep you going in more ways than one.

In fact, a new study finds that having a purpose can slow the onset of dementia by nearly a third -- limiting the actual outward signs of the disease even as your brain starts to deteriorate on the inside.

In this remarkable study, researchers asked 246 seniors to take a 10-question psychological test to determine whether they had a purpose in life. According to HealthDay News, the researchers defined "purpose" as a "tendency to find meaning from life experience, to be intentional and focused."

More specifically, they said seniors with a purpose felt that life was good and they were contributing to their lives by making their own decisions.

Then, after the seniors died, the researchers took a look at their brains -- and found, as you might expect among any group of seniors, that many had the damage linked to dementia. Specifically, the "plaques and tangles" that have become a reliable marker of the disease.

Well, they're a reliable marker most of the time -- because the seniors who had a purpose showed fewer signs of cognitive decline even when they had plenty of those plaques and tangles.

Overall, the researchers say their rate of cognitive decline was 30 percent slower in seniors with a purpose -- even after adjusting for other factors, such as illness or depression.

Of course, having a purpose is one thing. But I know many of you want something a little more tangible for avoiding dementia.

This summer, I'll have all the details on the one supplement you should take if you want to avoid dementia in my printed newsletter, Health Revelations. Sign up here, and you'll be one of the first to get it.