Are you worried about your memory or a family member’s? No one wants to experience cognitive decline, including brain fog, diminished memory, or subjective problems with thinking. I definitely want to keep my mental capacity sharp into my 90s and beyond, and I am sure you do too.
Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and cognitive decline are occurring more frequently and at younger ages. Drug treatment for Alzheimer’s may slow the speed of the decline, but none of the drugs have been able get people’s thinking ability back to normal. There are many other causes of cognitive decline, including unrecognized food sensitivities, chronic infections, mercury or other heavy metal poisoning, inadequate hormone support, and inadequate nutrients.
Many people come to our therapeutic lifestyle clinic seeking help with brain fog and mental health problems. Fortunately, as these patients implement a therapeutic diet and lifestyle, they often report improved mental clarity, better memory, and more stable moods. Those with more serious problems, including subjective cognitive decline and even early Alzheimer’s, require a more thorough and intensive investigation.
My colleague and friend, Dr. Dale Bredesen, has developed a comprehensive integrative and functional medicine approach to addressing issues related to cognitive decline that has been able to slow and often reverse memory loss. People have been able to return to work and improve their cognitive abilities.
He has created a program to guide evaluation and provide stepwise intervention for patients with cognitive decline and dementia. He has published a case series of 100 patients (click here for pdf) using his evaluation and treatment strategy for dementia patients. I am very pleased to note that the second author on this paper is another friend of mine, Dr. Ken Sharlin. Ken is a neurologist who is also an Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner and is certified both as a Wahls Protocol® Health Professional and a Bredesen Protocol® practitioner. I recommend him highly.
If you or a family member is concerned about cognitive decline, here are some simple initial strategies that I urge you to consider.
- 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 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.
- Consider removing gluten, dairy, and eggs from your diet. These three foods are the most common unrecognized food sensitivities and are often associated with inflammation in the brain.
- Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. During sleep, the brain removes toxins, including the amyloid that builds up in the brain when people develop Alzheimer’s. Getting sufficient sleep will make it easier for your brain to clear the amyloid. Getting sunlight exposure to your eyes in the daytime and reducing exposure to the computer, smartphones, and televisions in the evening will help improve your sleep quality.
- Connect with friends and family. You can do this in person or via telephone or video call. Loneliness increases inflammation in the brain and risk of cognitive decline.
Consider coming to the Wahls Protocol® Seminar to learn more about what you can do to improve your brain health and your thinking ability. You will meet other Wahls Warriors™ who are also on the journey of using therapeutic lifestyle to improve their energy, boost their brains, and get their lives back on track. And you will meet health professionals who are devoted to learning how to use therapeutic lifestyle as part of their clinical practices. For more specific personalized guidance for your healing journey, see a Wahls Protocol® health professional to assist you with your evaluation.