Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s can be incredibly frightening. The idea of losing your mind, the very thing that makes you human, is a scary thing, especially since it seems to happen more these days than ever before, and at a younger age. There is so much we don’t know about why this happens, or why Alzheimer’s is the 3rd leading cause of death in USA today. Brain diseases and cognitive decline are the last frontier: it is the area where we have been the least successful in science and medicine.
But there is reason to hope! In this blog and podcast episode (#203), I speak with bestselling author and intentionally recognised neurodegenerative disease expert Dr. Dale Bredesen about preventing and healing diseases like Alzheimer’s, why we have misunderstood the true nature of cognitive decline, how to keep our brains young and healthy, and more!
As Dr. Bredesen notes in his book The End of Alzheimer’s, people have been looking at neurodegenerative diseases incorrectly. If you take a good look at something like Alzheimer’s, you find a set of molecules that are out of balance. As we get older, this balance is influenced by several factors, such as trauma, hormonal changes and specific genes, which affect the “housekeeping functions” of the brain. When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, we always need to ask: what caused this? We need to practice precision medicine; we need to find the root cause(s) and stop just looking at the symptoms.
Our goal with Alzheimer’s is not to get rid of the chronic inflammation caused by amyloid plaques in the brain, but to get rid of what is causing the inflammation and allow the brain to regenerate and heal. It is critical to understand what exactly is driving this imbalance and avoid confusing the symptoms with the cause. In a typical case, there are around 10-25 contributors to neurodegeneration, including:
- Inflammatory causes
- Atrophic (aging) causes
- A combination of causes that are known as type 1.5 (which includes people who are insulin resistant)
- Toxins & biotoxins, which damage the brain and immune system
- Vascular (blood vessel) causes
- Traumatic causes
All of these produce different biochemical mismatches or imbalances in the brain, so we need to find different ways to adjust the biochemistry to heal the brain and prevent further damage.
This is why, in many cases, drugs have failed as mono-therapies. Our brains and bodies are complex, living things. There are a number of things we need to do to heal or prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and restore balance in the brain. We can’t just take one drug and expect to heal the issue.
We need to take a holistic, lifestyle approach to healing, and focus on treatments like:
- Diet and appropriate supplementation. This includes generating or taking ketones for energy and building up a healthy gut microbiome.
- Exercise. This includes developing insulin sensitivity and ketosis through aerobic exercise and strength training
- Healing sleeping apnea. Get your internal oxygen status checked and see if this can be improved to help you sleep better.
- Stress management. Uncontrolled toxic stress is a major factor in the onset of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
- Brain training.
- Targeted hormones if needed. For more on this see my recent blog and podcast.
- Brain stimulation.
- Drugs, if needed.
The earlier you take action, the greater chance you will have of healing or preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and get better over time. If you are 45 years or older, get a cognoscopy (like those offered by Dr. Bredesen’s Apollo Health Co.). This is a set of tests, including a simple online cognitive assessment, to assess your risk for neurodegenerative diseases. If you are symptomatic, Dr. Bredesen recommends that you get a MRI with volumetrics for further analysis so you can start to develop a treatment plan.
When it comes to neurodegenerative diseases, everyone should be on prevention watch! Indeed, many of us are putting ourselves at risk for Alzheimer’s by the things we do every day, while more and more people in mid-life are starting to battle with cognitive decline. This is why it is important to start addressing this issue from a young age by looking at our lifestyle and how we can improve our mental and physical wellbeing.
For more on healing and preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, listen to my podcast with Dr. Bredesen (episode #203), and check out his book and the Apollo Health Co. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing! And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media (don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
4:04 How we can prevent & reverse neurodegenerative diseases
7:00 Why we have been looking at Alzheimer’s from the wrong perspective
9:05 The truth about Alzheimer’s
19:40 Stress and neurodegenerative diseases
23:44 The different types of Alzheimer’s
42:00 How the science and medicine of Alzheimer’s is changing
49:10 How to treat neurodegenerative diseases
59:40 The importance of DHEA for brain health
1:06:01 Statins and brain health
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