Reversing Cognitive Decline
My Take on Taking Control
Concerns about memory loss, cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s are common and understandable. Modern healthcare has enabled Americans to live longer in a healthier body, but has done little to improve brain health. Alzheimer's is now the third leading cause of death in the United States, right behind heart disease and cancer. For women, Alzheimer’s is more common than breast cancer, and women comprise 65% of patients and 60% of caregivers. The impact of this disease on women and those they care for is enormous. While prevalence is increasing, the good news is you actually have a great deal of control over this devastating disease.
I help patients understand how they can take control. We investigate risk factors such genetics and ApoE status, nutrient status, inflammation, and drug adverse effects. We use advanced testing to do this. Then we put together a personalized plan to improve brain health. This may include diet and lifestyle recommendations, micronutrient repletion in the form of oral supplements or intravenous infusions, exercise programs for both mind and body, acupuncture, and more. Patients can expect to feel better, sharper, and have measurable results within 6-12 months of following my protocols.
I use the following categories as developed and written by Dale Bredesen. The RECODE protocol is found in his book “The End of Alzheimer’s.” It’s a read well worth your time.
4 CATEGORIES OF REVERSABLE COGNITIVE DECLINE
INFLAMED/ HOT Patients present predominantly inflammatory symptoms. They
have elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and other lab tests reflecting a chronic inflammatory state. When inflammation is activated, it alters gene transcription. Two of the genes turned "on" lead to a degradation of synapses, or the connections in the brain.
ATROPHIC/COLD This is a completely different mechanism from inflammation. In
this situation, brain function is being gradually turned off, similar to dimming the lights to converse energy. Restoring nutrients, mitochondria and hormones are critical to reversing this down regulation.
GLYCOTOXIC/SWEET This is an in-between subtype that involves both inflammation and atrophy processes, due to insulin resistance and glucose-induced inflammation. This often correlates with being overweight and improves as blood sugar control improves.
VILE/TOXIC These are patients have a history toxic exposures, possible mercury, plastics, pesticides, or smoking. Many will have chronic inflammatory response symptoms and lab tests. These patients respond to customized detoxification protocols
MY TIPS TO IMPROVE BRAIN HEALTH
Mental stimulation matters. Learning new things promotes new neural connections. Any mentally stimulating activity should help to build up your brain. Read, take courses, and try "mental gymnastics," such as word puzzles or math problems. Experiment with things that require manual dexterity as well as mental effort, such as drawing, painting, and other crafts.
Get physical exercise
Exercising regularly increases the number of tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the region of the brain that is responsible for thought. Exercise also spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells (synapses). This results in brains that are more efficient, plastic, and adaptive, which translates into better performance.
If your physical health limits your exercise, at least do breathing exercises. Consider Superbrain Yoga or others types of low impact movement.
Get enough B vitamins in your diet
Three B vitamins, folic acid and niacinamide, are especially important for brain health and help lower your homocysteine level (which is linked to an increased risk of dementia). Whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, or quinoa, and leafy green vegetables such as kale and romaine are good sources of B vitamins.
Optimize your numbers
Get your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol into the optimal ranges. Know if you have oxidative stress or inflammation. There are many natural and lifestyle-based ways to address any unfavorable results.
Consider anti- inflammatory options
Observational studies suggest that long-term use of aspirin and other anti-inflammatories may reduce the risk of dementia by 10%–55%. Ask me whether other anti-inflammatories such as fish oil or turmeric (curcumin) would work for you.
Care for your emotions
People who are anxious, depressed, sleep-deprived, or exhausted tend to score poorly on cognitive function tests. Poor scores don't necessarily predict cognitive decline in old age, but good mental health and restful sleep are important goals.
Strong social ties have been associated with lower blood pressure and longer life expectancies.
Avoid toxic vices
Smoking tobacco, drinking excess alcohol, and eating fried, sugary or highly processed foods all lead to inflammation.
Copyright, Dr. Erica Oberg, ND, MPH, 2020