Dementia is a general term that includes several chronic diseases of the brain including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, both of which cause progressive memory loss, personality changes, and impairments of reasoning and problem solving, severe enough to interfere with daily life. Every sixty-five seconds, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, also considered Type 3 Diabetes. More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, a number that’s projected to rise to 13.2 million by 2050, underscoring the urgent need for effective prevention strategies.
Currently, Alzheimer’s disease affects one and ten people over 65 and one and three of those over 85, and ranks as America’s sixth leading cause of death. While deaths from heart disease (the number one killer of U.S. men and women) dropped by 9% between 2000 and 2017, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have soared by a 145%. Because this memory-robbing disorder has long eluded effective treatment, people who develop it, on average, die 4-8 years after their diagnosis. Although these are frightening statistics, there are now powerful reasons to be hopeful.
Until recently, the scientific consensus was that there was no known way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. But is that really true?
In 2017, a panel of twenty-eight of the world’s leading experts on dementia zeroed in on both lifestyle factors and medical conditions (all of which are preventable and highly treatable) that contribute to the disease. The key take away… addressing these risks could prevent up to 35% of dementia cases. The World Health Organization (WHO) conducted its own review and issued the world’s first guidelines for dementia and cognitive decline risk reduction in 2019. The WHO stated that for the first time there is solid evidence to show that prevention of dementia is possible through implementation of key interventions. With the insights from studies performed in 2020, we’ve learned that up to 40% of memory loss cases could either be prevented or delayed. And, an optimal lifestyle beats Alzheimer’s disease risk by 60%.
In our practices, both in Shreveport and in the Greater New Orleans area, we take these three major approaches… in order to secure your brain health, you must love your brain, protect your brain, and feed your brain.
How are these three lifestyle steps accomplished?
Step One: Love your Brain
As always, start with two to three steps, make them sustainable, and then continue to add another two to three steps in a timely fashion. Here are some actions to consider.
Know Your “WHY” (Purpose)
- “Why do you want to be healthy, brain-wise?”
- “Who needs you to be healthy…have a healthy brain?”
Start with Daily Intention, Gratitude and Appreciation
On a daily basis, list 3 things that you are grateful for and adopt an abundance mindset.
Learn Something New Every Day
Like your body, your mind needs exercise to stay fit. Keeping the brain active boosts its cognitive reserve, allowing it to work efficiently. Some of these activities that provide healthy intellectual stimulation and help increase your cognitive reserve include taking music lessons, studying a foreign language, enrolling in other adult education classes, brain training (Donesa Walker’s Learning Rx, and Lumosity), and doing crossword puzzles/Sudoku.
Read ingredients, particularly looking for any toxins, in any product you use/consume.
Know your “numbers” such as weight, waist circumference, resting heart rate, ApoE Gene (particularly ApoE4, which is associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer’s Disease), 9p21 Gene (Heart Attack Gene), Vitamin D3, fasting blood sugar, advanced cholesterol/lipid panel, and hormones (Thyroid, Estrogens, Progesterone, DHEA, Testosterone and Cortisol – Stress Hormone).
Step Two: Protect Your Brain
First and foremost, you need to protect your brain from injury by optimizing your arterial wellness. This is accomplished by the following:
- Avoid nicotine use or exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Excessive alcohol can cause a reduction in the size of the brain.
- Recreational drugs can cause a reduction in brain activity.
- Get your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol numbers into healthy ranges.
- Maintain a healthy weight to avoid the “Dinosaur Effect,” i.e., big body/small brain.
- Participate in aerobic exercise.
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods.
- Improve your oral health (the mouth is the gateway to health).
- Manage stress and consider meditation (However, having a little stress/anxiety about your health is good…makes one perform).
- Get 7-8.5 hours of uninterrupted nighttime sleep and take 20-30 minute naps.
Other Ways to Protect Your Brain
- Socialization, i.e., family, friends, social clubs, chats, engagements (in-person and/or social media)
- Twice daily brushing and flossing your teeth
- Limit screen time (particularly with teenagers)
- Good Gut Health. FYI: The gut possesses ~100 trillion micro-organisms (‘friendly bacteria’) that assist in digesting food and making Neurotransmitters, i.e., Serotonin, Dopamine and others. Take a supplement incorporating a pre-, pro- and post-biotic. An example is Modere’s Axis Trebiotic.
- Consistent exercise, particularly those that challenge both sides of the brain: Dance fitness, hula hooping, table tennis and martial arts are some examples. Some of the Benefits of exercise include:
- Increase in Neurotransmitters, particularly Serotonin. FYI: Serotonin is an important chemical and neurotransmitter–endorphin that is believed to help regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function.
- Decrease (by ½) the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Studies reveal that people who exercise make more money $$$.
- Eliminate all other Risk Factors:
- Heart Disease
- Erectile Dysfunction (microvascular disease)
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (results in a decrease of oxygen to the brain)
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Step Three: Feed your Brain
Hydrate with Electrolyzed Reduced Water. Electrolyzed Reduced Water is ‘charged’ water with an alkaline pH (pH >7.0). This water acts as an Anti-Oxidant / Anti-Inflammatory. FYI: The brain is made of 80.5% water; represents 2% of the body’s weight; and uses 20 – 30 % of calories consumed.
Feed your brain great food and consider ‘crowding’ in the good so there won’t be room for the bad.
Think of your relationship to food like other relationships: Avoid things that hurt you.
- The GOOD:
- Become the Master of Your Kitchen—COOK!
- Embrace the healing power of food…”Let food be thy medicine.”
- Nutrient-dense food that is high in fiber and low on the glycemic index (sugar)
- Fresh and seasonal vegetables and fruits
- Complex carbohydrates (not simple sugars)
- Quality proteins (more plant than animal sources)
- Healthy fats, especially Omega 3’s (these fats provide high energy, assist in the absorption of certain vitamins, and are anti-inflammatory). FYI: 60% of the weight of the brain is fat. These proteins and fats help to maintain a balanced blood sugar, thus allowing for improved decision-making.
- Dark (not Milk) Chocolate—eat a small square DAILY! Another way is to use cacao beans (chocolate) in a plant-based protein meal replacement shake.
- Organic green tea (EGCG and L-Theanine)
- Use spices like medicine, i.e., Curcumin/Turmeric, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Garlic, Oregano, Pepper, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.
- The BAD:
- Sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, and corn
- Sugar and dairy are inflammatory. They can lead to shrinking of the brain and arterial inflammation (heart attack, stroke, and dementia).
- Gluten causes GI problems. Remember, the ‘gut’ represents the “second brain.”
- 85% of corn is grown with pesticides. It has the worst fatty acid profile of all of the grains and it is used to fatten cows and pigs.
- Avoid grilling meats (the cancer-causing heterocyclic amines—HCAs) and meats that are fortified with hormones and antibiotics.
- Don’t eat the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.).
- High-glycemic/processed, low-fiber, pesticide/herbicide-laden food
Other Ways to Feed Your Brain
- Embrace Intermittent Fasting, i.e., 16/8 (eight-hour window of eating)
- Take targeted bioceuticals (supplements that work synergistically…together), NOT those that are based on the “fairy-dusted” Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) but on optimal levels. An example is Modere’s Axis OptiPack, possessing the following formulas: Multi-Vitamin / Mineral Complex, Anti-Oxidant / Adaptogen, Vitality Complex and Omega Complete.
The Bottom Line
It is NEVER too late to have a healthy brain! With neuroplasticity, you can cause the brain to become bigger, stronger and more active, at ANY age! So…teach your loved ones and family.
If I can be of any further service either in Shreveport (pairO’docs Bio-Rejuvenis) or the Greater New Orleans Area (Bopp Dermatology & Facial Plastic Surgery), please reach out to me by completing the Healthspan Quiz at www.drkarenpendleton.com.
Disclaimer: The information presented here is for educational purposes only. It is not intended or implied to be a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment or advice of a qualified, licensed medical professional. You are encouraged to confirm any information obtained from or through this article with other sources and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician.