For most people, as we get older, we anticipate becoming forgetful. We expect our brains to slowly start to deteriorate. Like anything else our body does, there is a reason this begins to happen. As we age our body slows the production of a number of things that keep us young. Everyone must age and this is a very natural process, there are ways that we can slow this process. By using supplements and improving your daily nutrition you can help offset the cognitive decline that happens too often.
Supplements are natural substances you might use to add nutrients to your diet because our body slows or stops the production of many vitamins and minerals as we age, causing aging and age-related health problems. These are affordable and readily available making supplementing a good choice to stay cognitively sharp. Here are a few you could start with:
Magnesium can actually reverse the effects of stress on your brain and can increase your memory and cognitive abilities. Magnesium is also vital to ATP production. ATP powers neurotransmitters that send signals through the brain, so low magnesium means low brain energy. Magnesium also helps in making proteins, helps muscles work efficiently, maintains blood pressure, and manages news cells.
Vitamin D is also a great supplement for your brain. It helps protect you from free radical damage, which can decrease your cognitive performance. Liquid D3 is a great source of vitamin D, but nothing can beat pure sunlight. Even 10 minutes in the sun daily can make a difference! Studies have shown that low Vitamin D levels were associated with significant cognitive decline in the senior population.
Krill oil is packed with compounds that keep the neurons in your brain communicating freely. Krill oil helps with better communication in your nervous system and also reduces the symptoms of depression. So taking Krill Oil can help you be smarter, faster, and happier overall!
Turmeric is a spice frequently used in Indian food. It contains curcumin, which is great for your brain. Curcumin is an antioxidant that travels easily from your blood to your brain, and like vitamin D, it helps protect your brain from free radical damage. Curcumin also decreases inflammation which also causes cognitive decline.
B Vitamins fight off the amino acid homocysteine, which increases brain shrinkage and may lead to Alzheimers. Vitamin B may be able to decrease brain shrinkage by up to 90% and make this shrinkage up to 7-times slower, making vitamin B an important addition to your supplements.
High Fat Diet
There have been studies done that a high-fat diet feeds your brain! A high-fat, low carb diet may improve brain function in older adults. Research from a pilot study at John Hopkins found 14 seniors with mild cognitive problems and early Alzheimer’s disease when given a high-fat, low carb diet had improved brain function and memory. The short-term results from this study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease are not near enough evidence to prove that a modified Atkins diet can greatly slow down or delay mild cognitive decline to Alzhei mer’s Disease. Although, the results were conclusive enough that they agreed it did warrant further research and studies to be conducted on this topic.
Another diet that was developed by Dr. Terry Wahls, author of The Wahls Protocol, Grain Brain, The Anti-Inflammatory Diet, and many other great books. Dr. Terry Wahls is a physician, teacher and best-selling author. In his own words this is how Wahls describes his journey with multiple sclerosis and how he was healed:
“After I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I consulted leading doctors and took the newest drugs, which, I was told, would never restore function, only delay decline. Despite the drugs, my condition worsened quickly for the next seven years, four of which I spent in a tilt-recline wheelchair. I was desperate, afraid I’d end up bedridden and demented. I used my knowledge as a physician and researcher to study the basic science and develop a diet and lifestyle protocol to feed my brain. I hoped only to slow my decline. But after a year on the protocol, I was able to bike 18.5 miles with my family. My life was transformed. Diet and lifestyle healed me.”
– Dr. Terry Wahls
Dr. Wahl’s clinical course and the protocol that he used to treat his multiple sclerosis was all documented in a published case record. Now, Dr. Wahls conducts research and studies on lifestyle and diet to continue learning more and teaching others that small daily choices and lifestyle changes can help reduce the symptoms of chronic illness. The Wahls method is summed up in these steps below but we highly recommend reading his book, The Wahls Protocol, if you are really interested in learning more!
Cut out sugar and processed foods and reduce carbohydrates. Having high blood sugar and insulin resistance greatly increases the risk of cognitive decline. Take out the grain-based products and replace them with non-starchy vegetables.
Eat more greens, which are an excellent source of carotenoids and vitamin K, both of which are associated with improved thinking, repair of myelin (the fatty insulation on the wiring of your brain), and healthier brain stem cells.
Move more. Increasing physical activity levels increase the nerve growth factors that support healthy brain cells. (If you missed it, check out our last blog resistance training for seniors.)
Consider removing gluten and dairy products from your diet. These foods are most common unrecognized food sensitivities and are most often associated with inflammation in the brain.
Get up to 8 hours of sleep at night. During sleep, the brain removes toxins from your body through the lymphatic system but also the brain removes toxins, including the amyloid that builds up in the brain when developing Alzheimers. Getting enough sleep will make it easier for your brain to clear the amyloid.
Sunlight exposure and reducing exposure to the TV, phone, and computer in the evening will help you have better quality sleep. Because it gives you vitamin D3 and also our circadian rhythm (circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats on each rotation of the Earth roughly every 24 hours) is based on sunlight. The Blue led screens tell our brain to wake up when it should be slowing down to rest.
Dr. Rudy Tanzi is a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and Alzheimer’s research, he is also known as the “Rock Star Scientist”, and for good reason. Dr. Tanzi was a part of the team that discovered the first disease gene by using human genetic markers in the 1980s. After that accomplishment, Tanzi stated that he would find the gene that causes Alzheimer’s disease – and, he sure did. This set off his career in the battle against Alzheimer’s and he has never turned back. His most recent breakthrough was regarding neuroinflammation and its impact on the brain. What is neuroinflammation?
“What’s killing most of the neurons in asymptomatic Alzheimer’s patient is a pathology called neuroinflammation, which is an inflammatory response of the brain to the plaques and the tangles and the cell death that they cause. The plaques and tangles come early. They initiate the original nerve cell death, but then the brain reacts to that over time with an inflammatory response. That neuroinflammation leads to ten to a hundred times more cell death than the original cell death that triggered it. Neuroinflammation occurs across a number of neurodegenerative diseases—not just in Alzheimer’s, but in diseases like Lou Gehrig’s disease and Parkinson’s. So if you want to help a patient, you want to stop neuroinflammation.”
Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph. D. , New England Living
Dr. Tanzi working alongside Cure Alzheimer’s Fund is working to develop drugs that help fight against inflammation and is having great success with it. The drug that is currently being tested and is showing great results is being tested on patients with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). The hope is that if they are successful with treating patients with ALS by fighting against neuroinflammation then you can anticipate that it would work fighting other diseases where neuroinflammation kills cells, such as Alzheimer’s.
For those that are not already struggling with a neurodegenerative disease though, Dr. Tanzi has come up with recommendations for how to strengthen your brains. He refers to his action plan to strengthen your brain as the acronym SHIELD.
Sleep-8 hours sleep gives your brain maintenance time to clean itself
Handle stress-Cortisol, a stress hormone, kills enough cells to cause inflammation
Interaction-Staying socially engaged. Unwanted loneliness increases Alzheimer’s.
Exercise- induces the growth of new nerve cells in the part of the brain that is affected by Alzheimer’s.
Learn new things-The more you learn new things this creates new synapses in your brain.
Diet- Plant-based with high fiber and high fat.
New research is coming monthly about the symptoms and causes of Alzheimer’s. Dr. Tanzi, like many others, believes we are just a few years away from not only preventing but reversing much of the damage caused by this terrible illness.
The brain is arguably the most important organ in the body. It is crucial that we make sure that throughout our lifetime we are keeping the health of our brain in mind, and making daily decisions to strengthen it. There are many supplements, diets, and studies out there that give you tips on how to do this, some of the most reputable ones we list in this blog. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the information, simply pick a few things that you can start doing today! Whether you’re trying to stop the onset of Alzheimer’s, learning about anti-aging, or like me, just want to be mentally sharp by the time I’m 120 years old. It’s’ never too late to start taking care of your brain, and the sooner the better!
Dwell at Home is here to help.
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