"Losing your Mind?!" – 7 Steps to Stop Alzheimer’s & Dementia
“WHERE did I put my keys? I JUST put them down!?" Sound familiar?
The ability to think and remember is one of the most precious gifts we have, yet recently memory seems to be vanishing right under our nose from more friends and family each year! Any of us who have loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer's or Dementia know the horror of "losing your mind"...literally.
So WHY is this happening and WHAT can we do about it?!
The short answer is, it's complicated and multifaceted...but research shows ways we can promote regrowth of brain cells and help prevent getting these diseases in the first place. Interested? Start practicing these seven strategies to promote brain cell growth and connectivity.
1. Eat real Food ::
If it’s packaged in a box and you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t eat it! Avoid eating processed items (typically found in a can or box). Spend time preparing your own food. Focus on filling your diet with nutritious organic, non gmo (genetically modified) fruits/vegetables and organically-raised grass-fed meat. It can be spendy and overwhelming up front, but investing in your health now can save you thousands in medical bills later. You are what you eat. Quality matters!
2. Avoid Sugar and refined Fructose ::
Refined sugar is America’s #1 drug of choice…and YES it is a drug and highly addictive. Suppressing the immune system by competing with vitamin C and causing inflammation, it contributes to just about every disease ranging from diabetes and heart disease, all the way to cancer. Sugar also suppresses brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is a very important growth hormone for the brain. Ideally, keep your sugar consumption to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 g/day, or as low as 15 g/day if you have insulin/leptin resistance or any related disorders.
3. Avoid Gluten and Casein (primarily wheat and pasteurized dairy, but not dairy fat, such as butter) ::
Gluten has been proven by research to negatively affect the blood brain barrier. In addition it makes your gut more permeable allowing proteins into your bloodstream where they don’t belong. This in turn sensitizes your immune system, promoting inflammation and autoimmunity which both play a role in Alzheimer’s development. You can help optimize your gut flora by regularly eating a high quality probiotic supplement or eating fermented foods.
“Remember that swapping out processed fare for whole foods is an important if not KEY part of the equation, as GE (genetically engineered) sugar, corn, and grains are now pervasive in most processed foods sold in the US.” -Dr. Mercola
4. Increase your intake of all Healthy Fats including animal based omega-3 ::
For optimal function, your brain needs healthy fats including organically-raised grass-fed meats, coconut oil, olives and olive oil, nuts, avocado, organic pastured egg yolks, and butter made from raw grass-fed cow's milk. According to Dr. Mercola, “High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA are also helpful for preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer's disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder.”
BONUS: Decrease overall calorie consumption or intermittently fast. This helps the body to remember how to burn fat and repair insulin/leptin resistance which is a primary contributing factor for Alzheimer’s. For more information on intermittent fasting, look for future posts.
5. Exercise regularly ::
Too busy? Why not start with a 5 minute a day walk before lunch or bike ride after dinner?! Physical exercise is suggested to slow the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s due to triggering a change in the way amyloid precursor proteins are metabolized. It also increases brain protein PGC-1alpha levels which helps the body to produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s. The key here is to just start somewhere, whether its a 5 min walk or 15 jumping jacks, start small and aim for eventually 10 -30 min of exercise/day.
BONUS: Exercise outside to get sufficient vitamin D for your immune system to combat inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s. If you live in the Northwest like me where a slice of sun in the winter is about as common as snow in July, you may need to consult your doctor about supplementing with vitamin D.
6. DETOXify ::
It’s no longer a question of “Are you toxic,” it is a question of “HOW TOXIC are you?” From chemicals off gassing from your beautiful new carpet to carbon monoxide inhaled while sitting in traffic to pesticides and chemicals infused into foods to make them last forever and taste delicious; we get toxins everywhere. Many toxins are fat soluble, crossing the blood brain barrier, ending up in the brain and becoming neurotoxins which interact with normal chemical reactions in your brain causing cognitive problems. I recommend to my patients who want to do this to start with our intense 1 week detox program. Click here to request information.
7. Train your Brain ::
Think of the brain like a muscle, the more you exercise and train it, the stronger it gets! Researchers suspect that mental challenges forcing you to think, help build your brain, which in turn makes it less susceptible to getting the lesions associated with Alzheimer’s. So instead of soaking in hours of mindless TV, wake your brain up with brain teasers or a crossword puzzle. Learn a new instrument or peruse a thought provoking book. Do something new!