Reading: Breakthrough News for Halting & Reversing Mental Decline

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Breakthrough News for Halting & Reversing Mental Decline

New research offers 6 ways to protect yourself from dementia and Alzheimer's

By Meg Jordan

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Photo by Jayson Hinrichsen for Unsplash

Without a doubt, one of the most distressing aspects of aging is the fear of losing one’s mental capacities. More people are worried about memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia than the loss of physical mobility. Alzheimer’s disease is now the sixth leading cause of death for older adults in the US, affecting more than 5.4 million Americans.

Your risk increases with certain alleles of the ApoE gene, so DNA testing is recommended for families when elderly parents exhibit symptoms such as personality changes, lack of focus, and impaired judgment.

We used to think of dementia and Alzheimer’s as an “old person’s disease,” but unhealthy lifestyles are viewed as chief contributors to an expansion of neurological disorders that has all the markings of a public health catastrophe in the near future. But the good news is that new research in the last five years is seeing promising results in reversing the signs of dementia and memory loss and putting the brakes on mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and early stage Alzheimer’s disease, once thought irreversible.

As a medical anthropology doctor and an RN specializing in behavioral health, I search the world for remedies, botanicals, and even cultural rituals that keep us vital and engaged throughout our life span. While I’ve found a wide variance in the specific lifestyles among the pockets of flourishing elders worldwide, there is always a consistent pattern of eating a largely plant-based diet, engaging in rigorous physical activity, and enjoying close social networks. These lifestyle factors are echoed in the innovative clinical findings of several neuropsychology researchers, including Dale Bredesen, MD, from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the Department of Neurology at UCLA, as they map out protocols to halt and reverse serious neurological disorders that were once thought intractable. As a faculty member of the Institute of Functional Medicine Coaching Academy, I spent time learning the various new protocols and proceeded to examine them in five case reports that I just presented with a clinical nutritionist at Harvard’s Institute of Coaching this September.

A lifestyle plan for optimal cognitive health includes:

  1. HIIT exercise: High-Intensity Interval Training, the best way to stimulate BDNF ( brain-derived neurotrophic factor) production. BDNF is a naturally occurring neurotrophin throughout the nervous system that plays a role in neuronal plasticity.
  2. Nutrition: Consider a modified ketogenic, low-carb, high in healthy fat diet with intermittent fasting.
  3. Targeted supplements: Helpful compounds include phosphatidylserine, bacopa, and lion’s mane medicinal mushroom.
  4. Sleep: restorative, consistent, uninterrupted, and at least eight hours every night.
  5. Social connections: Enriching and positive social connections.
  6. Brain stimulation — a variety of methods.

If you’re suspecting some memory loss for a loved one or yourself then get the battery of neurological and genetic tests (explore the ApoE gene allele) and begin the protocol right away. If you’re interested in preventive health measures, start with a few aspects of the six points above and make them a regular part of your life.

For more information, I recommend reading The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline by Dale Bredesen, MD,  and Brain Maker by David Perlmutter, MD.

The full protocol for healthy individuals to engage in right away requires more explanation. I will be reporting on it at Covey’s first spa getaway at Civana outside Phoenix, Arizona, this November.

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