Alzheimer – Brain Health and Cognitive Decline

There are lots of jokes about “senior moments” but for thosemaster-runner who have serious impairments and the people who love them, this is not a joke.  There’s research, there’s drugs and there’s lots of people who can no longer remember or care for themselves.

Looking for someone to invent that magic pill is not actually the answer.  Causes of cognitive decline are many, requiring a number of answers.

Things that are known:

  • How the body processes sugar (glucose) and insulin sensitivity are key factors in what fuels the brain. If the brain can’t properly use glucose it is not going to function very well.
  • Plaques known as amyloids have been found in excessive amounts in people with Alzheimer’s. Amyloids are made as a protective mechanism initially.  They bind toxins, they help decrease inflammation and infection, and if your deficient in various things that support nerves like vitamin D or B12 you will make more amyloids.
  • Things that improve insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation can help brain function.

Possible issues to test for include insulin resistance, heavy metal toxicity, nutrient deficiencies like B12 and vitamin D, fatty acid balance, inflammation markers to name a few.

Dr. Dale Bredesen has been working on a multi-factorial approach for cognitive decline,  This article refers to a very small study done with 10 people and additional larger scale trials are needed and being done.

His program addresses a number of issues requiring dietary changes, exercise, sleep, and supplements.

It is interesting to note that he has his ideal recommendations but that even though all of them were not followed, he still got good results with this small number of people.

Some of the recommendations:

  • Fasting for 12 hours between dinner and breakfast.
  • Elimination of simple carbohydrates and processed foods.
  • Elimination of known inflammatory foods like grains, dairy, corn and soy.
  • Exercise, 4-6 days/week for 30-60 minutes.
  • Sleep 8 hours per night.
  • Take supplements to help get rid of the amyloids such as Curcumin, Ashwagandha.
  • Improve focus and neural linkages. Consider Bacopa monniera

Here is a chart from Dr. Bredesen’s article on specific supplements and links to reference rationale.

I know that this is a long list and not everyone needs to do everything.  There are definite key points.  Increase insulin sensitivity, give the nervous system the nutrients it needs to build and repair.  Eliminate inflammation and toxicity.  Get enough exercise and also rest.

We all know aging is inevitable but mental decline is not.  It’s a sign that something is wrong, that there is neurodegeneration and it is possible to change this.