Updated 10/8/23; Originally posted 4/24/22
Reasons we lose brain function with old age are much less mysterious now than when our grandparents were our age. Alzheimer’s disease is increasingly prevalent and one of the most expensive ways to spend our aging years. Most people envision laughing and playing with young family members as they increasingly fill the role of family elder. Few of us imagine spending the last years of our life without the ability to recognize our loved ones, recall the best and worst experiences of our lives, or remember what we just ate. We can all be proactive and work to prevent Alzheimer’s from bringing sadness and stress into our lives.
Dr Bredesen’s Book Shares How To Reverse Cognitive Decline
Dr. Dale Bredesen’s book The End of Alzheimer’s Program: The First Protocol to Enhance Cognition and Reverse Decline at Any Age gives us hope and specific instructions of how to prevent and reverse the cognitive decline associated with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis (and many other neurological challenges). When I read this book, I immediately wanted to change some of my own wellness practices, check a few blood tests, and share this important information with you!
Types of Alzheimer’s Disease
When you focus on preventing cognitive decline, your entire body and mind experience increased health. Dr Bredesen describes the types of Alzheimers as:
- Type 1: Inflammatory or “hot” – inflammation in the brain is causing the creation of the amyloid plaques that clog the memory center
- Type 2: Atrophic or “cold” – poor nutrition, low hormones, and low growth factors do not support a healthy, ever changing brain so some of the brain shuts down
- Type 1.5: Glycotoxic or “sweet” – yes, this is caused by high blood sugar and insulin resistance which creates a mix of Type 1 and Type 2. The sugar is creating inflammation and the high insulin levels have made the brain less sensitive to insulin – one of its most important growth stimulators
- Type 3: Toxic or “vile” – exposures to toxins like heavy metals, mold and their mycotoxins, and toluene kill the mitochondria that keep you alive and compromise your brain in multiple ways
- Type 4: Vascular or “pale” – related to cardiovascular disease, the leakiness of your blood vessels puts you at risk for cognitive decline
- Type 5: Traumatic or “dazed” – head trauma from falls, accidents, and concussions puts you at risk for a low functioning brain later in life
Of course you can have more than one type at the same time which complicates matters even more.
Treating and Preventing Alzheimer’s
We are all at risk of developing Alzheimer’s and nearly all of us can prevent it through appropriate preventative steps involving diet, detoxification, improvement of blood flow, and more. Dr Bredesen’s treatment plan that has successfully reversed Alzheimer’s is summarized as:
- Removal of exposures contributing to cognitive decline
- Resilience resulting from optimal health support
- Rebuilding of the neural network
Dr Bredesen’s approach to accomplishing his suggested treatment plan looks like:
- Get Insulin Sensitive: Ensure you are insulin sensitive by decreasing sugar intake, increasing fat intake, time restricted eating, add appropriate exercise, optimize nutrients such as zinc, improve your sleep, reduce your stress
- Get into Ketosis: Burn fat instead of relying on glucose so you have metabolic flexibility for your brain and body
- Feed Your Brain: Boost your micronutrients beyond the low end of “normal” into “optimal” to support synapse formation, neurotransmitter generation, hormone levels, and growth hormones to grow new better brain cells
- Resolve and Prevent Inflammation: by healing leaky gut, building a healthy gut microbiome, dealing with oral and other infections, or metabolic challenges like high triglycerides and high blood pressure
- Treat Pathogens: to remove chronic and latent pathogens including bacteria, viruses, spirochetes, fungi, and parasites
- Detoxify: Identify and remove toxins including mercury, lead, cadmium, mold and other biotoxins
- Sleep to Heal: Rule out or treat sleep apnea and optimize sleep for healing
Dr Bredesen is firm that Alzheimer’s is preventable and treatable when you pay attention to your own health and and are proactive about protecting your cognitive abilities.
A Brain Health Checkup – Cognoscopy
It is hard to notice small changes to your own brain, so he recommends giving yourself a “Cognoscopy” at age 45 or soon after to establish a baseline and determine which health aspects you should address first. A cognoscopy is just a set of blood tests and a simple online cognition assessment used to help you understand and make adjustments to your lifestyle and health status to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. In his book, Dr Bredesen gives you the list of tests and the value for each test result that will optimize your brain health. To give yourself a cognoscopy, you can take this list to your doctor and insurance or you can take matters into your own hands and order the tests independently through me (talk to Zoa for more info!).
Dr Bredesen reminds us to beware the following term for blood test results: “within normal limits”. The “normal” range of many blood tests has nothing to do with optimal function of your brain (or body) and everything to do with comparing yourself to sick and poorly functioning people.
Alzheimer’s Prevention Relies on Your Wellness Lifestyle
Whether you are looking to avoid cognitive decline or reverse it, Dr Bredesen describes the lifestyle changes he recommends in order to heal and protect your brain. Studies have shown that the following a Wellness Lifestyle actually heals your brain when you follow through reliably:
- Fast – to restore insulin sensitivity eat for 12 hours or less during the day and make your last meal/snack at least 3 hours before bed
- Eat – a diet low on sugar, high in vegetables, full of healthy fats and proteins, rich in micronutrients, and measurement your ketones to show that you are getting into ketosis
- Exercise – for your mitochondria, insulin sensitivity, blood flow, oxygenation of the blood, increasing brain volume, and mental challenge
- Sleep – to make memories, activate the detoxifying glymphatic system in the brain, enable your immune system, decrease inflammation, and create healthy hormone levels
- Stress – mild stress that stops is protective (like exercise and fasting) but chronic stress leads to high blood glucose levels and insulin resistance, high blood pressure, obesity, and brain dysfunction – so lower your stress and prioritize stress management!
- Oral Health – mouths harbor multiple reasons for cognitive decline including mercury amalgam fillings, herpes simplex (cold sore virus), oral infections, root canals, and your oral microbiome
- Detox – your body, your environment, your food, your water, your air – because your cognition depends on it! Lower your exposure to toxins and improve your innate abilities to detoxify your own body. Get help if you need it!
- Boost your Biome – ensure you have enough of the friendly bacteria, viruses, and fungi that your body needs to in order to work well – and minimize the beasties that are less helpful
- Supplement – to ensure that you are getting what you uniquely need to optimize your brain
- Brain Stimulation – you need to use it or lose it!
- Mindfulness – guides your actions, choices, and mind while supporting healthy hormones, brain healing, and a joyful life worth remembering
Ready to Improve your Wellness and Brain Health?
Are you as inspired as I am now? I hope so! If you are ready for help as you upgrade your wellness lifestyle through better nutrition, detoxification, movement, stress relief, and more – let’s talk! We can work virtually or in person at my La Plata, MD area wellness studio.