You spoke and we listened. After reviewing your survey responses from the spring, we found that many of our patients are concerned about brain health – and rightfully so. That’s why we composed this series to guide you through a 4-pronged approach to brain health. Through the end of the summer, follow along with this series to learn:
- Most Toxic Foods for Your Brain
- Foods to Promote Brain Health
- Ways to Exercise Your Brain
- Stress Management Techniques for Brain Health
We invite you to share what you learn in this series with our online community. Together, we can heal.
Introduction to Brain Health
Memory loss is one of the scariest and most heart-breaking symptoms to experience or to observe in loved ones. Those who suffer memory loss may feel disoriented, lost, confused, angry, or anxious. Their loved ones can feel sad or helpless. Worse yet, they may fear that one day they will suffer the same fate.
Millions of Americans struggle with memory loss every day. 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s disease, and 1 in 3 seniors die with some form of dementia. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease can strike adults as young as 40 or 50 years old.
Before the onset of dementia, people often struggle with milder, but still concerning symptoms of age-related cognitive decline. About 4% of U.S. adults are diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder (ADD). Many others—with no diagnosable disease—struggle day in and day out with issues like foggy brain or trouble concentrating.
The fear that many people have about memory loss usually stems from the idea that dementia is unavoidable and predetermined by genetics. The fear may also arise from the worry that there are no effective treatments and that once dementia begins to develop, it cannot be reversed.
For many years, researchers have believed these things to be true: certain genes predispose people to develop Alzheimer’s disease, and it was thought to be a progressive and irreversible disease.
But recent research has started to show that we have significant power to influence our genetic expression (determining whether or not we will ever experience memory loss) and that diet and lifestyle changes may even offer hope of reversing Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages.
Hope from Lifestyle Changes
A study published by Dr. Dale Bredesen in 2016 shows that patients with early stages of Alzheimer’s disease experienced memory improvements with functional and metabolic therapies. The therapies included nutritional supplements, diet, exercise, and stress management approaches that were individualized to the test results of each patient. This was the first published report of reversal of cognitive decline with lifestyle interventions and should offer inspiration and hope.
Lifestyle habits influence the risk of ever developing dementia—for better or worse. For example, the Cardiovascular Cognition Study showed that adults who exercised 4 or more times per week had half the risk of developing dementia as those who exercised only 0 or 1 time per week. The Einstein Aging Study showed that New Yorkers who experienced high levels of stress had a 30% greater risk of cognitive decline. A study of prisoners in Australia showed that those with the lowest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) had the most extreme symptoms of ADD.
A 4-Pronged Approach to Brain Health
There is no magic bullet to ensure optimal concentration, memory, and brain health. However, if you are concerned about decreased concentration at work or have fears of losing your mind as you age, there are active steps you can take to support brain health.
In the upcoming articles in this blog series, we will introduce a 4-pronged approach to brain health: remove offending foods, include brain-healthy foods, exercise your brain, and manage stress. Follow along with this series to learn simple lifestyle habits you can incorporate TODAY to support your cognitive health.
Check out the next article in our brain health series: The 3 Most Toxic Foods for Your Brain
About the Author: Dr. Gerard Guillory, MD is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and has published two books on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In 1985, he opened The Care Group, PC. Today, his clinic is a Primary Care facility that is a hybrid of functional and traditional medicine treating patients with digestive disorders, autoimmune disease, and other conditions. You can learn more about Dr. Guillory here.