Dementia is a general term that includes several chronic diseases of the brain including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, both of which cause progressive memory loss, personality changes, and impairments of reasoning and problem solving, severe enough to interfere with daily life. Every sixty-five seconds, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, also considered Type 3 Diabetes. More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, a number that’s projected to rise to 13.2 million by 2050, underscoring the urgent need for effective prevention strategies.
Currently, Alzheimer’s disease affects one and ten people over 65. It also affects one and three of those over 85 and ranks as America’s sixth-leading cause of death. While deaths from heart disease (the number one killer of U.S. men and women) dropped by 9 percent between 2000 and 2017, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have soared by 145 percent. Because this memory-robbing disorder has long eluded effective treatment, people who develop it, on average, die within 4 to 8 years after their diagnosis. Although these are frightening statistics, there are now powerful reasons to be hopeful.
Until recently, the scientific consensus was that there was no known way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Is that really true?
In 2017, a panel of twenty-eight of the world’s leading experts on dementia zeroed in on both lifestyle factors and medical conditions (all of which are preventable and highly treatable) that contribute to the disease. The key take away… addressing these risks could prevent up to 35 percent of dementia cases. The World Health Organization (WHO) conducted its own review and issued the world’s first guidelines for dementia and cognitive decline risk reduction in 2019. The WHO stated that for the first time there is solid evidence to show that the prevention of dementia is possible through the implementation of key interventions. With the insights from studies performed in 2020, we’ve learned that up to 40 percent of memory loss cases could either be prevented or delayed. And, an optimal lifestyle beat Alzheimer’s disease risk by 60 percent.
In our practices, both in Shreveport and in the Greater New Orleans area, we take these two major approaches… in order to secure your brain health, you must Love Your Brain, Protect Your Brain and Feed Your Brain. How are these three lifestyle steps accomplished?
Love Your Brain
As always, start with two to three steps, making them sustainable; and then continue to add another two to three steps in a timely fashion.
These are some actions to consider…
*Know Your “WHY” (Purpose)
“Why do you want to be healthy, brain-wise?”
“Who needs you to be healthy…have a healthy brain?”
*Start with Daily Intention, Gratitude and Appreciation
Thus, maintain relentless focus. On a daily basis, list three things that you are grateful for, and then adopt an abundance mindset.
*Learn Something New Every Day
Like your body, your mind needs exercise to stay fit. Keeping the brain active boosts its cognitive reserve, allowing it to work efficiently. Some of these activities that provide healthy intellectual stimulation and help increase your cognitive reserve include taking music lessons, studying a foreign language, enrolling in other adult education classes, brain training (Donesa Walker’s Learning Rx, and Lumosity), and doing crossword puzzles/Sudoku.
Read ingredients, particularly look for any toxins, in any product you use/consume.
Know your “numbers”…such as weight, waist circumference, resting heart rate, ApoE Gene (particularly ApoE4, which is associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer’s Disease), 9p21 Gene (Heart Attack Gene), Vitamin D3, fasting blood sugar, advanced cholesterol/lipid panel, and hormones (Thyroid, Estrogens, Progesterone, DHEA, Testosterone and Cortisol – Stress Hormone).
Protect Your Brain
First and foremost, you need to protect your brain from injury by optimizing your arterial wellness. This is accomplished by the following…
Avoid nicotine use or exposure to secondhand smoke.
Excessive alcohol can cause a reduction in the size of the brain.
Recreational drugs can cause a reduction in brain activity.
Get your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol numbers into healthy ranges.
Be proactive in avoiding arterial and brain inflammation. Inflammation/oxidative stress has been associated with the accumulation of brain deposits termed beta-amyloid, long considered the primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Proven strategies are…
Weight loss/goal weight
Eating anti-inflammatory foods (See Below)
Improving your oral health (the mouth is the gateway to health)
Management of stress…consider meditation
However, having a little stress/anxiety about your health is good…makes one perform
20 to 30-minute naps and 7 to 8.5 hours of uninterrupted nighttime sleep
Get to a healthy weight, so as to avoid the “Dinosaur Effect,” i.e., big body/small brain
More ways to protect your brain
Socialization, i.e., family, friends, social clubs, chats, engagements (in-person and/or social media)
Twice daily brushing and flossing your teeth
Limit screen time (particularly with teenagers)
Good gut health
FYI: The gut possesses ~100 trillion micro-organisms (friendly bacteria) that assist in digesting food and making Neurotransmitters, i.e., Serotonin, Dopamine and others. Take a supplement incorporating a pre-, pro-and post-biotic. An example is Modere’s Axis Trebiotic: www.modere.com/7842487
Consistent exercise, particularly those that challenge both sides of the brain: Dance fitness, hula hooping, table tennis and martial arts are some examples. Some of the benefits of exercise include:
Increase in Neurotransmitters, particularly Serotonin
FYI: Serotonin is an important chemical and neurotransmitter – endorphin that is believed to help regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function.
Decrease (by ½) the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Eliminate all other risk factors:
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Erectile Dysfunction (microvascular disease)
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (results in a decrease of oxygen to the brain)
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Feed your brain
#1: Hydrate with Electrolyzed Reduced Water
*Electrolyzed Reduced Water is ‘charged’ water with an alkaline pH (pH >7.0). This water acts as an Anti-Oxidant / Anti-Inflammatory.
FYI: The brain is made of 80.5% water; represents 2% of the body’s weight; and uses 20 – 30 % of calories consumed.
Feed Your Brain Good Food
*Consider crowding in the good so that there won’t be room for the bad.
Think of your relationship with food like other relationships
*Avoid things that hurt you.
Become the Master of Your Kitchen – COOK!!!
Embrace the healing power of food…“Let food be thy medicine”
Nutrient-dense food that is high in fiber and low on the glycemic index (sugar)
Fresh and seasonal vegetables and fruits
Complex carbohydrates (not simple sugars)
Quality proteins (more plant than animal sources)
Healthy fats, especially Omega 3’s (these fats provide high energy, assist in the absorption of certain vitamins, and are anti-inflammatory)
FYI: 60 percent of the weight of the brain is fat.
These proteins and fats help to maintain balanced blood sugar, thus allowing for improved decision-making.
Dark (not milk) chocolate – eat a small square DAILY!!! Another way is to use cacao beans (chocolate) in a plant-based protein meal replacement shake.
Organic green tea (EGCG and L-Theanine)
Use spices like medicine, i.e., curcumin/turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic, oregano, pepper, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Limit sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, and corn.
Sugar and dairy are inflammatory. They can lead to shrinking of the brain and arterial inflammation (heart attack, stroke, and dementia).
Gluten causes G-I problems. Remember, the gut represents the 2nd Brain.
Corn: 85 percent is grown with pesticides. It has the worst fatty acid profile of all of the grains and it is used to fatten cows and pigs.
Avoid grilling meats (the cancer-causing heterocyclic amines – HCAs) and meats that are fortified with hormones and antibiotics.
Don’t eat the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.).
High-glycemic/processed, low-fiber, pesticide/herbicide-laden food
Other ways to feed your brain
Embrace intermittent fasting, i.e., 16/8 (eight-hour window of eating)
Take targeted Bioceuticals (supplements that work synergistically…together), NOT those that are based on the ‘fairy-dusted’ Recommended Daily Allowance – RDA but on Optimal levels. An example is Modere’s Axis OptiPack, possessing the following formulas: Multi-Vitamin / Mineral Complex, Anti-Oxidant / Adaptogen, Vitality Complex and Omega Complete
The bottom line
It is NEVER too late to have a healthy brain!!! With Neuroplasticity, you can cause the brain to become bigger, stronger and more active, at ANY age!!! So…teach your loved ones and family.
If I can be of any further service either in Shreveport (pairO’docs Bio-Rejuvenis) or the Greater New Orleans Area (Bopp Dermatology & Facial Plastic Surgery), please reach out to me by completing the Healthspan Quiz at www.drkarenpendleton.com
DISCLAIMER: All of the information found in this article is based on the opinion of the author Karen M. Pendleton, M.D. The information is meant to motivate readers to make their own health decisions after consulting with their own health care providers. All readers should consult a doctor before making a health change, especially those that are related to a specific diagnosis or health condition. No information in this article should be relied on in determining a diet, making a medical diagnosis or determining a treatment for a medical condition. The information in this article is not intended to replace a relationship with a qualified healthcare practitioner and is not intended as medical advice. No information in this article should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.