Q: “My parents are getting older and I want to do everything I can to help them prevent Alzheimer’s, considering both my grandmothers had this disease, and I am worried about getting it too.” writes this week’s house call. “What can we do to prevent dementia?”
A: The truth is, dementia is a very big problem that’s becoming bigger every day.
Statistics are grim. 10 percent of 65-year-olds, 25 percent of 75-year-olds, and 50 percent of 85-year-olds will develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. And the fastest growing segment of our population is the 85-year-olds. Researchers predict Alzheimer’s will affect 106 million people by 2050. It’s now the seventh leading cause of death.
Scientists now call Alzheimer’s disease “Type 3 diabetes.” What’s the link between Alzheimer’s and diabetes? Well, new research shows insulin resistance, or what I call diabesity (from eating too many carbs and sugar and not enough fat) is one of the major factors that starts the brain-damage cascade, which robs the memory of over half the people in their 80s, leading to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
But don’t think too much insulin affects only older folks’ memories. It doesn’t just suddenly occur once you’re older. Dementia begins when you’re younger and takes decades to develop and worsen.
Here’s the bad news/good news. Eating sugar and refined carbs can cause pre-dementia and dementia. But cutting out the sugar and refined carbs and adding lots of fat can prevent, and even reverse, pre-dementia and early dementia.
More recent studies show people with diabetes have a four-fold risk for developing Alzheimer’s. People with pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome have an increased risk for having pre-dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
You don’t have to have full blown type 2 diabetes to develop brain damage and memory loss from high insulin levels and insulin resistance.
We all have heard of the mind-body effect. Well, there is also a body-mind effect. So, you can impact your brain through your diet and heal your body. In fact, your body and your mind aren’t two separate systems; they’re one elegant, continuous ecosystem. What you do to the body affects the brain, and what you do to the brain affects the body.
Cognitive decline and memory loss can be prevented and even reversed. We simply must optimize brain function and then we see miracles. I’ve seen this happen many times in my medical practice.
The underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease begin with too much sugar on the brain. The cycle starts when we over-consume sugar and don’t eat enough fat, which leads to diabesity. Diabesity leads to inflammation, which creates a vicious cycle that wreaks havoc on your brain.
If you looked at an autopsy of a brain of an Alzheimer’s patient, you’d see a brain on fire. This inflammation occurs repeatedly in every chronic disease and very dramatically with the aging brain and overall aging process.
8 Steps to Reverse Memory Loss
From that perspective, these 8 strategies help many of my patients reverse or prevent dementia.
Balance your blood sugar with a whole-foods, low-glycemic diet. You can achieve this by taking out the bad stuff (refined carbs, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, dairy, and inflammatory, omega-6 rich oils such as vegetable and seed oils) and putting in the good stuff (healthy fats like avocados, walnuts, almonds and cashews, grass-fed meats, pastured chicken and eggs, olive and coconut oil).
healthy fats that make your brain happy. These include omega 3 fats in wild fatty fish, as well as coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, whole eggs, nuts, and seeds.
daily. Even a 30-minute walk can help. More active readers might want to incorporate high-intensity interval training or weightlifting. Studies show physical activity can prevent and even slow down the progression of cognitive decline and brain diseases like dementia.
wisely. At the very least, take a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, an omega 3 fat supplement, extra B6, B12, and folate, as well as vitamin D3. And, a good probiotic will enhance the brain-gut relationship..
Check your thyroid and sex hormone levels. If they are out of balance, you will want to treat them.
Detox from mercury or other heavy metals, if you have high levels, by doing a medically supervised detox program.
Control stress levels. Chronic stress takes a toll on your body and brain. Relaxation isn’t a luxury if you want to prevent or reverse dementia. Whether that involves deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, find something that helps you calm down.
Get 8 hours of sleep every night. Studies show poor sleep becomes a risk factor for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Aim for at least 8 hours of quality sleep every night. This is just a start, but these eight strategies go a long way by giving your brain a chance to heal, recover, and experience fewer memory problems.
***Even if you aren’t suffering from cognitive decline, you should take these steps because they can help you prevent the aging of your brain
and help you achieve lifelong health.