Avoiding Alzheimer's and Dementia Pt 1
Avoiding Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Alzheimer’s and dementia are the #1 biggest fear in today’s aging population, surpassing cancer. This is no surprise, as many people would rather die than lose their memory and their mind and continue to live in a shell of their former self.
Although we continue to sink billions of dollars into looking for a “cure”, so far every single drug that has been studied has failed to be effective. Fortunately, science is proving that there are things you can do to prevent and even reverse some of the damage that can contribute to Alzheimer’s. Progressive functional medicine doctors like Dr. Dale Bredesen of UCLA are proving that with the right testing and support - diet, lifestyle, supplementation - you can absolutely decrease your risk of developing this devastating condition.
What Causes Dementia?
Genetic Predisposition + Brain Inflammation
Genetic Predisposition - Specifically the APOE4 mutation has a heavy association with developing dementia. It’s important to remember that epigenetics has taught us that while an APOE4 gene could “load the gun” for dementia, your lifestyle will pull the trigger. There are plenty of people with a (+/+) APOE4 genotype without expressing a dementia phenotype. This isn’t a death sentence. But it is a strong association, and it’s helpful to know your risk.
(-/-) = 0% increased risk of dementia
(+/-) = 30% increased risk of dementia
(+/+) = 50%+ increased risk of dementia; roughly 7 million Americans carry (+/+)
What Causes Brain Inflammation?
Trauma - The first cause should be the most obvious - a head trauma. Just like if I hit your thumb with a hammer or punch you in the thigh as hard as I can, a trauma is going to create damaged blood vessels and stimulate an inflammatory response. Trauma in the brain is no different, except that sometimes we can’t see or feel the trauma. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can cause a primary injury - bruising, hematoma, shearing. This leads to a breakdown of what’s called the Blood-Brain-Barrier (BBB), which is designed to act as a barrier between the bloodstream and the brain. This breakdown of the BBB leads to inflammatory factors entering the brain and causing damage and degeneration, which is known as the secondary injury. It is these downstream effects which can lead to neurodegeneration and cognitive decline.
Diet - Dementia has been recently described as “Type 3 Diabetes” because research has shown that the neurons develop insulin resistance which impairs their ability to properly use fuel to create energy. The Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) not only encourages poor blood sugar and insulin control (leading to diabetes and other metabolic diseases), but is loaded with inflammatory foods like rancid vegetable oils, toxic chemicals, and neurotoxins like monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame which kill brain cells.
Toxicity - Toxins can store in the brain and create a long-term inflammatory response leading to neurodegeneration and cognitive decline. Some toxins that are particularly detrimental to the brain are excitotoxins like MSG and Aspartame and heavy metals such as Mercury, Lead, and Aluminum (in this podcast I go off on a little tangent about injecting Aluminum into our children who we know don’t have fully formed blood-brain-barriers - it’s crazy!). Listen to our past podcast episode too which specifically talks about these three heavy metals and their association with dementia.
Sedentary Lifestyle - Sitting is called the new smoking because research is finding that sitting is just as dangerous as smoking, if not more. Moving is mechanically good for the body. It keeps the joints moving, the muscles pumping, the lymph system draining toxins, the CSF flowing through the spinal cord and bathing the brain, the heart and lungs pumping - it keeps the machine moving. It also can help stimulate the release of things like Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which is important for establishing new neural connections in the brain. But movement does a lot more. Every conscious second of every day your body is sending signals to your brain telling it how it is positioned in relation to gravity. It’s called “proprioception”. You can close your eyes right now and tell if you are standing, sitting, or lying, you can touch your finger to your nose or take a few steps forward or rub your belly and pat your head (maybe…) and that’s because the body is communicating to the brain at all times. According to Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Roger Sperry, movement provides up to 90% of the stimulation to the brain.
What Should You Be Doing Right Now?
You Should Be:
Getting the Right Testing
Blood Sugar Control - glucose, HbA1C, Insulin
Inflammation - C-Reactive Protein, Homocysteine
Hormones - thyroid, testosterone, progesterone, cortisol, vitamin D
Cyrex - neurological autoimmune reactivity, Blood Brain Barrier integrity
Organic Acids - Kynurenine pathway and Quinolate, 8-(OH)dG
Urine Provoked Heavy Metals
Brain Scans like SPECT scans, NeuroQuant, or fMRI
ANY movement is good - just keep moving! (sitting is the new smoking)
Endurance Exercise - walking, running, jogging, cycling, swimming (not too long!)
Dancing, skiing, tennis, table tennis, basketball, golf - anything with coordination involved!
Meditation, prayer, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong
Reading Books and Learning
Stimulating the Brain with Brain Games like Tetris
Follow the Basics FIRST
Avoid Processed Foods
Avoid Vegetable Oils
Avoid Conventional Meat
Eliminate added Sugars
Avoid High Glycemic Index Foods
Measure and Balance Your Blood Sugar
Follow a Ketogenic Diet
Experiment with Fasting
Taking the Right Supplements
Omega 3 Fatty Acids - DHA and EPA
Blood Sugar Control
Brain Specific Support
GPC and other phosphotides
Gut-Brain Connection?? (whole other podcast!)