There is good news in the world of dementia. It is preventable. Yes, that is correct. Research is now showing us ways to prevent dementia, even if you have the genetic markers for Alzheimer’s. There are also ways to reverse dementia. This article is part one of a two-part conclusion to LKNConnect’s health and wellness series on dementia.
Why don’t you hear about this at your doctor visits?
The answer is complicated and somewhat political but, prevention does not involve the use of medications. Drugs may not even be necessary if you start working towards improved cognition early enough in the disease process. To repeat what you have read in earlier articles, medications only slow down the process, they do not cure it or reverse it. Traditional medical doctors may even say that there is no way to reverse dementia.
There are many books written about reversing and preventing dementia. This article is just meant to be informational and a brief summary of what I’ve read (See recommended books at the end of this article.) You should seek out help from your medical doctor, nutritionists, naturopaths, and wellness doctors for specific recommendations and lifestyle changes.
Sleep, diet, and exercise are the three most important categories for prevention
Sleep is one of our most powerful weapons against Alzheimer’s. Sleep affects cognition on many levels:
- alters cellular anatomy
- reduces formation of amyloid
- we do not eat when we sleep — we fast which is good for insulin sensitivity
- during sleep our brain cells activate autophagy (cellular eating) improving cellular health
- sleep is a time for repair — growth hormone is produced during sleep which aids in immune function and repair.
Can lead to cognitive decline so if you suspect sleep apnea you should talk to your doctor. To get better sleep, an hour before bed turn off all electronics that produce blue light. Blue light suppresses melatonin (the sleepy chemical). Giving yourself an hour before bed with no electronics allows your brain to be flooded with melatonin. It is also recommended to keep your room totally dark at night and the suggested bedroom temperature for sleeping is between 60-67 degrees for the best night’s sleep.
Change will not come without effort towards what you put inside your body. The American diet contributes to dementia and other chronic illness and inflammation. I recommend seeking out dietary consultation for anyone wanting to prevent Alzheimer’s.
Choose superior nutrition
You want to have superior nutrition, not simply good nutrition. Aim for vitamin levels above “within normal levels”. If you have the beginning of cognitive decline you need to have superior levels to reverse cognitive declines. If you would like more information on nutrition for dementia, I recommend the book The End of Alzheimer’s.
Cholesterol and other lipids:
Vascular disease is a key contributor with the development of dementia. Interestingly, low rather than high cholesterol is associated with cognitive decline. When total cholesterol falls below 150 you are more likely to suffer brain atrophy. Cholesterol makes up cell membranes including the brain. What you do not want is damaged cholesterol and its related lipids particles. These are the bad guys. It is important to have a good conversation with your doctor about your cholesterol levels and medications that may be impacting your cognition.
Inflammation is a key cause of Alzheimer’s. One popular theory focuses on increased gut permeability. “Leaky gut”, as you may have heard it, causes a chronic inflammation state in your body which can lead to cognitive deficits. This topic is complicated. If you suspect leaky gut or chronic inflammation, I recommend seeing a specialist or a wellness doctor. They can test you. Leaky Gut, Leaky Brain? is a great publication about the association between the gut, the brain, and chronic disease.
See part two of this article next week for more information about diet and exercise.
Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com
Kathy Lawrence has 20 years of experience as a Physical Therapist. Kathy received her Master of Physical Therapy degree in 1999 from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Then followed up with her Doctorate Degree in Physical Therapy in 2008 from A.T. Still University. She prides herself in her focus on Healthy Aging. Whether it’s wellness, pain management, or helping recover from an injury Kathy has been instrumental in keeping our aging population on their feet.
Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation: https://alzheimersprevention.org/
Vigorous exercise may counter cognitive decline in early Alzheimer’s: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/vigorous-exercise-may-counter-cognitive-decline-in-early-alzheimers
Leaky gut, leaky brain: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313445/
The End of Alzheimer’s by Dr Dale Bredesen MD
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