It’s one of those crazy things that researchers at the University of Florida say is a pretty dependable and low-tech way of determining whether someone is a likely candidate for Alzheimer's: whether you’re able to sniff peanut butter. And it gets even more strange beyond that.

Researchers asked confirmed Alzheimer’s patients to sniff peanut butter with first their right nostril, then their left. All the Alzheimer’s patients were able to smell the peanut butter with their right nostril but not their left. It was specific only to peanut butter, nothing else.

Since losing your sense of smell is the first sign of decreased cognitive function, researchers have been using the peanut butter test on patients who appear to be affected by dementia in trying to determine if they’re in the early stages of Alzheimer's. They’re saying it could end up being an easy, cheap and effective way to diagnose Alzheimer's disease.

In the meantime, researchers have also found that too much copper in the diet can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. Copper is an important mineral in our diet, but it’s hard to avoid because it’s in almost everything we eat and drink including water. It’s found in fruits, vegetables, red meat, shellfish, even vitamin supplements, so doctors should be on the alert for high levels of copper in blood tests.

You often think only the elderly are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, but the youngest person with a confirmed case of Alzheimer’s was 27. So keep trying to sniff that peanut butter every once in a while.

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