A healthy brain seems to be less common these days. It is estimated that 10 million Americans now suffer from some form of dementia. Approximately half of these have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. These numbers are shocking to say the least. Treatment options remain very limited and are minimally effective. The two drugs, Aricept and Namenda are really the only options offed by conventional medicine.
Mild cognitive impairment it can precede Alzheimer’s disease. It is more than just forgetting why you entered a room, or where you placed your keys. Testing may be indicated if your memory seems worse than most persons of your age. Do memory issues disrupt your daily life? Do you have difficulty with problem solving, or future planning? A neurologist can perform an assessment and help track to see if there is progression. Many action steps can be taken to prevent or reduce the progress of memory loss – dementia.
Can we reduce our risk of mental decline?
Practical steps for a healthy brain:
1. If you are on medications, get off of the unnecessary ones. Anticholinergic medicines (AC) like Benadryl, tricyclic antidepressants, and incontinence medicines are problematic. In adults receiving at least 3 mild ACs for 90 days increase their risk for cognitive impairment by 50 percent. In those people who received 1 or more severe ACs for more than 60 days increased their risk by100 percent. Examples of anticholinergic drugs are:
benztropine mesylate (Cogentin)
oxybutynin (Ditropan, Oxytrol)
Acid blockers such as omeprazole (e.g. Prilosec) are associated with a 44 percent increased risk of dementia. All of these medications are commonly prescribed by doctors; this deteriorating effect on brain health is quite surprising to me. It does not seem well publicized even though much research has been done on the negative effects of these drugs. Taking blood pressure pills may be protective against dementia, especially beta blockers such as Inderal and ACE inhibitors.
2. Brain boosting supplements are readily available and easy to take. Some of the best ones are:
DHA, docosahexaenoic acid, one of the main fats in omega-3 fish oil. 1000 mg of DHA daily offered the most brain benefit.
Resveratrol found mainly in red grapes, red wine. 200 mg daily was found to improve brain cell health and word recall. It can be purchased in supplement form.
B vitamins. B-complex supplements prevented further decline of a person’s ability to organize and plan. Best results were achieved with taken together with Omega-3 fish oil.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) made from cabbage or soy, has been shown to help with poor memory and mood. It is recommended to take 100mg up to three times per day.
Curcumin – turmeric. The most positive effects were observed with a dosage of 750 mg twice per day. Curcumin has been shown to have a positive and protective effect on many neurodegenerative conditions including Parkinson’s disease.
3. Controlling emotions. Natural solutions can be helpful in easing depression and anxiety promoting restful sleep, all of which are imperative for maintaining brain health. Taking a natural herbal supplement for sleep can be helpful; also curcumin supplements have been shown to be effective for depression.
4. Hearing and Vision. Those persons with mild hearing impairment are twice as likely to develop dementia as those with normal hearing. The risk increased three fold for those with moderate hearing loss and five-fold for those with severe hearing impairment. Certain types of dementia can involve vision loss. Having regular vision and ear exams can keep things functioning as they should.
5. Hormone levels. Low thyroid levels are associated with 240 percent higher risk of dementia in women. Borderline high thyroid levels had nearly and 800 percent higher risk in men. Thyroid hormone levels are easily monitored and regulated by your physician.
For every50 percent increase in free testosterone in the blood stream the risk of Alzheimer’s was decreased by 26 percent. There are studies which show men who developed Alzheimer’s disease had about half of the free testosterone in there blood as men who did not develop the disease. Testosterone replacement therapy is currently under research.
6. Nutrition. Certain types of dementia can be caused or worsened by nutritional deficiencies. In an earlier blog post I detailed the MIND diet which provides optimum nutrition for effective brain function. In a nutshell, eating a low gluten, whole food diet with emphasis on leafy greens and dark purple berries offer the most brain protection. Focusing on B12 and folate seem to be key for brain nutrition. Also, high amounts of antioxidants like vitamins C and E found especially in blueberries and dark leafy greens like kale and chard are very important. Read more about the Mind diet by following this link.
One important thing to eliminate forever is diet soda. There are many new studies linking the sweetener aspartame, found in diet sodas, to the development of depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Natural green tea is a good substitute.
Healthy Brain = No Fuzzy Thinking
There are actions we can take to help our brains stay as strong and sharp as possible. Eliminating fuzzy thinking can be achieved through healthy choices, supplementation, exercise and keeping our brains active and challenged. It is comforting to realize that cognitive decline does not have to be inevitable. And, you are never too old, or to young to begin caring for your brain to keep it a healthy brain.
We have three supplements that are very important and effective in maintaining brain health:
Omega 3 Fish oil
Nature’s Garden Whole Food Vitamins
Calming Mood Boost Formula
Each natural formula plays a key role in the nutrition and well being of your healthy brain.
Click on the images to learn more.