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Brain Health

Persistent memory and cognitive decline are becoming an ever-growing problem.

The Alzheimer’s Association estimated 6.5 million (about 1 in 9) Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s in 2022. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million. Seventy-three percent are age 75 or older and almost two-thirds are women.

A new study was published Feb. 3, 2022 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association reports that the brains of a small sample of patients who died of COVID display some of the same molecular changes found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. “One interpretation of these findings is that long COVID could be an atypical form of Alzheimer’s and/or that patients who had severe COVID could be predisposed to developing Alzheimer’s later in life.”

Posted on the Alzheimer’s Association website: “Half of primary care physicians reported that they do not feel adequately prepared to care for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. More than 25% reported being “only sometimes” or “never” comfortable answering patient questions about Alzheimer’s or other dementias.”

Watching a loved one slip away mentally and physically from Dementia / Alzheimer’s is so difficult!

Knowing that it could happen to you is terrifying!

Dementia is not a disease but a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain. The causes of dementia can vary, depending on the types of brain changes that occur.

 It is not uncommon for people to have mixed dementia. For example, some people have both vascular dementia caused by narrowing of brain blood vessels from stiffening of the artery walls or plaque buildup and Alzheimer’s disease caused by amyloid plaques, tangled bundles of fibers called neurofibrillary, or tau, tangles and loss of connections between neurons in the brain.

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to recognize family, carry on a conversation and respond to their environment.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is when a person experiences a small but noticeable decline in memory or thinking skills. MCI is sometimes defined as a transitional stage between the expected cognitive decline of getting older and the more serious cognitive decline of dementia. MCI isn’t considered dementia, but roughly 10-15% of people with MCI may develop dementia/Alzheimer’s each year.

The National Institute on Aging states “Scientists are trying to discern the complex brain changes involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and it is likely that damage to the brain starts a decade or more before memory and other cognitive problems appear.”

Dr. James Giordano, PhD, a professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University, says, “A healthy brain can remain fully capable for the majority of a person’s life span. The good news is that a healthy brain retains much of its capacity to reestablish and form node and network connectivity throughout much of the life span, well into old age. It just requires the necessary stimuli to keep these mechanisms and processes actively engaged. This is why lifelong ‘brain health’ is so important.”

Dr. Verna R. Porter, a neurologist, and the director of programs for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and neurocognitive disorders at the Pacific Brain Health Center, Providence Saint John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica, California states, “Mental stimulation is vital, as is quality sleep and stress management. Chronic or persistent stress can actually lead to nerve cell decline and even death, which may manifest as atrophy (shrinkage in size) of important memory areas in the brain. Nerve cell dysfunction and degeneration in turn increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Engage in relaxation techniques… Studies have shown that regular meditation, prayer, reflection, and religious practice may diminish the damaging effects of stress on the brain.”

Being proactive and taking care of your brain now, before it becomes too late to repair is imperative. The foods you eat play a role in keeping your brain healthy and can improve specific mental tasks, such as memory and concentration.

Generally, you should try to eliminate as much refined sugary and white flour, and chemical additive processed foods as possible. Diet Soda: According to a study published in the April 20, 2017 American Heart Association medical journal Stroke: “Drinking at least one artificially sweetened beverage daily was associated with almost three times the risk of developing stroke or dementia compared to those who drank artificially sweetened beverages less than once a week.To our knowledge, our study is the first to report an association between daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drink and increased risk of both all-cause dementia and dementia because of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Incorporate more complex grains, wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy proteins and stay hydrated.

Your brain uses omega-3s in fatty fish to build brain and nerve cells, and these fats are essential for learning and memory. Two main components in coffee and green tea — caffeine and antioxidants — can help support brain health. Blueberries and other deeply colored berries deliver anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that can help prevent brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases.

There are numerous supplements to help give nutrition to the brain and reverse some of the damaging effects of aging.

Kyolic® Omeg-AGE (Kyolic) is a unique multi-system supplement which contains Aged garlic extract, an ultra-pure sustainable source of omega-3s and vitamins D3, K2, E, and B6.       

Over 700 studies have demonstrated that Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) can protect against hardening of the coronary arteries by preventing a build-up of calcium inhibits the progression of coronary artery calcification.  In the January 2016 a study published in the Journal of Nutrition revealed Aged Garlic Extract can reverse the buildup of deadly plaque in arteries and help prevent the progression of heart disease and stroke.

A study published in the January 2017 journal NUTRIENTS shows: Aged Garlic Extract is protective of brain neurons by reducing neuro-inflammation. A segment of the study states, “Over 350 scientific studies have shown that Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) is safe and effective in providing health benefits in humans. Its neuroprotective effect has also been evaluated in an animal model. AGE has the potential to protect the brain against neurodegenerative conditions by preventing brain injury following ischemia, protecting neuronal cells against apoptosis, and preventing Beta-amyloid-induced oxidative death. Moreover, treatment with AGE or S-allyl cysteine has been shown to prevent the degeneration of the brain’s frontal lobe, improve learning and memory retention, and extend lifespan.”

Scientists have found that omega-3 fatty acids can help speed up recovery from nerve damage. Mice with high levels of the fatty acid showed higher resistance to nerve damage and faster recovery.

Neuro Optimizer® (Jarrow Formulas) supports brain and antioxidant function safely and naturally, without the use of stimulants.* ingredients include: Citicoline (CDP-Choline) is an intermediate in the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine, a constituent of the gray matter of brain tissue (30%).* Citicoline supports brain metabolism by supporting the synthesis of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine.* PS (Phosphatidylserine) supports the brain’s response to stress.* Phosphatidylserine is a fatty substance called a phospholipid. It covers and protects the cells in your brain and carries messages between them. Phosphatidylserine plays an important role in keeping your mind and memory sharp. Animal studies suggest that the level of this substance in the brain decreases with age. The antioxidants Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Alpha Lipoic Acid and Taurine help support the health of neurons.* Laboratory studies show that taurine can stimulate new growth and connections of brain cells, which raises the real possibility for restoration of youthful brain function in older adults. Taurine levels decrease with age and with metabolic and neurological disease. Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Pantothenic Acid and L-Glutamine support brain metabolism.* Taurine aids in osmoregulation (maintenance of the concentrations of ions) inside the cell.*

Selenium Synergy (Methylselenocysteine) (Jarrow Formulas) Research shows selenium compensates for the age-related reduction in neurogenesis and associated decrease in cognitive function.

Selenium is important for maintaining normal brain function and its deficiency has been linked to a number of age-related neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. Selenium status also declines naturally with age.

A study published in 2022 Cell Metabolism suggests could reverse the cognitive impact of stroke and boost learning and memory in ageing brains, according to Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) researchers. Lead researcher Dr. Tara Walker stated, “When selenium supplements were given to the mice, the production of neurons increased, reversing the cognitive deficits observed in aging. We also found that learning and memory deficits of stroke affected mice returned to normal when they were given selenium supplements.” Do not exceed more than 200 mcg per day.

Numerous studies in the area of brain health indicate that regardless of the aging process, the brain maintains an ability to adapt by creating new neural pathways. Of course, accessing the full potential of neuroplasticity means focusing on various aspects of your lifestyle that are linked to cognitive health.

Studies have shown that exercise increases the size of a certain brain structure and improves circulation that’s important to memory and learning. Therefore, incorporate daily exercise even if it’s only for 15 minutes!

Keeping your mind active too is important and while you are at it make it fun! Many studies suggest that certain informal activities that are mentally stimulating, such as reading or playing games, may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s-related cognitive impairment and dementia.

If you start making small changes now, you’ll eventually be on track for maintaining better brain health while aging.

Supplements are available to order for pickup or delivery call 508-336-4242 Tree of Life Wellness Center.

Jane Jansen Holistic Practitioner   

Tree of Life Wellness Center for telephone or in-office appointments call 508-336-4242

Host of Holistic Healthline Radio available on iHeart radio or holistichealthline.com

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