Dementia: Preventable and Reversable
November 21, 2019
One of every 2 Americans will be diagnosed with dementia by the age of 85. Dementia is expected to triple in the next 20 years with 2/3 of its victims being women. These are the statistics. Although having a genetic predisposition increases the chances of developing dementia, anyone can get it. Successful reversal is more likely in the early phases of dementia, so prevention is the best strategy. We CAN improve these odds, each one of us has the power to make choices to change these statistics.
There’s nothing we can do about the genes we inherited, but thankfully our genetic makeup does not need to determine our fate. Science has confirmed that epigenetics, (which could also be called our lifestyle, life choices, and environmental factors), largely determine whether we will develop disease or not. Since there is not an effective treatment for dementia, it’s in our best interest, for our own sake and for the sake of our families, friends and communities; that we make the effort to avoid this devastating illness.
The dementia process starts 10-30 years before symptoms manifest. It’s important to begin your brain health care now. Of course this applies to aging well in general. The choices we make in our younger years can determine how we fare in our later years.
What causes dementia? There are several types. Alzheimers makes up 75%. Others are Lewy Body, Alcoholic, Vascular, Mixed Type, Kidney disease, and more. There are at least 36 known factors that contribute to the condition. It’s just not possible to address them all with a pill. The amyloid plaques that are blamed for the symptoms are actually the body’s way of defending itself against the disease process. So far there have been 60 genes identified as causing Alzheimers, the most famous one being ApoE4. ApoE4 carriers have a 30-90% increased chance of developing dementia. This information can be obtained with specialized testing offered through our practice.
Dr Dale Bredesen is the primary leader in the discovery of dementia prevention and reversal. His work as a researcher has revealed that “Alzheimers disease is actually a protective response to, specifically, three different processes: 1) inflammation, 2) suboptimal levels of nutrients and other synapse-supporting molecules, and 3) toxic exposures.” (Bredesen, The End of Alzheimers, pg 16).
There are many avenues to giving ourselves dementia. The areas to be investigated fall under these categories: nutrients, stress, inflammation, infections, hormones, gut health and microbiome, toxins, genetics, and trauma.
Each of us is unique. Our ability to maintain health throughout the life spectrum depends on how we live our daily lives.
The particular areas of behavior that impact brain health are the following:
- Sleep—We need 7-9 hours of restorative sleep nightly.
- Lab Tests and Learning—We need functional lab testing to direct our specific interventions, and we need to always challenge our brains, to keep on learning.
- Exercise—Aerobics and strength activities at least 150 minutes weekly.
- Diet—We need to eat whole foods, organic, low glycemic (dementia is being considered Diabetes Type 3) and we need regular fasting in our eating schedule.
Stress and our Social Life—Stress comes in many forms, physical, emotional, physiological. But regardless of the type, stress impacts the body negatively. Socializing and having friends and family that enhance our lives boosts our health.
What you can do to prevent dementia: work with a Brain health specialist and/or a Functional Medicine practitioner who is skilled in the Bredesen protocols. It’s best to begin this work in young adulthood, but it’s rarely too late. This work requires motivation and patience. It’s an investment in your health for the long term.