Seven tips for a younger and healthier brain
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is frightening – memory loss and cognitive impairment and all that. To a sufferer’s loved ones and indeed, the sufferer him or herself, it is the closest thing to death. Yet, even today people are still not paying enough attention to this disease of the brain nor taking the steps they should to prevent it.
“People are scared of a tumor and want it removed right away out of fear that it might be cancer, but when it comes to Alzheimer’s, it’s different. If a doctor warns a person that he/she is giving off signs that could develop into Alzheimer’s in 10 years, they listen but don’t really hear,” said Dr. Piyanuj Ruckpanich, who specializes in integrative rehabilitation and integrative medicine.
This is a serious problem with Alzheimer’s, Dr. Piyanuj adds. “Many people who are developing the disease are not aware of it. Soon, we will live in a world that has too many patients with this brain disease. It is a myth that Alzheimer’s only happens to people aged 65 and over. One can suffer from this disease at any age.”
The brain is one of the most researched organs, but the least understood. The doctor says new knowledge gives a lot of hope about treating brain malfunctions. “The brain can recover. According to studies, 30% of stroke patients can be cured and make a full recovery while another 30% can also be cured but not totally recover,” she said.
The latest knowledge shows that there are ways to nurture, stimulate and rest the brain for optimum performance. The bad news is that there is not one medication that will cure Alzheimer’s but the good news is that we can slow down cognitive impairment and its decline.
One of the two first Thai physicians registered by Dr. Dale Bredesen Appollo Health in California, Piyanuj said there is no single drug that can treat brain disease and explains that Alzheimer’s disease “manifests from the confluence of multiple factors,” but protocols that address the many factors that lead to Alzheimer’s can make a difference.
Each individual requires different approaches to prevent or at least dramatically slow the onset of Alzheimer’s but in general, an average person can follow these 7 steps for better brain health.
The first thing first is to reduce sugar, said Dr Piyanuj, noting that said in the old days we used to consume fat and it was good for the brain. Over time, cooks created many new dishes and as a result, diets are not always healthy.
Burning fat is crucial. Alzheimer’s is associated with a decrease in glucose utilization. A three-pronged approach to begin burning fat is eating a plant-rich, fiber-rich, low carbohydrate diet that’s high in healthy fat (Keto diet). Sixty percent of our brains are made of fat. The diet approach also includes fasting overnight (or known as IF) for at least 12 hours as well as refraining from eating three hours before going the bed (KetoFLEX 12/3).
Ideally one should exercise for 30-60 minutes a day and 4-6times a week. The key is to do it regularly, said Dr. Piyanuj.
Exercise has good impacts on the brain as it increases the heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also aids the release of hormones which provide an excellent environment for the growth of brain cells. Exercise also promotes brain plasticity by stimulating the growth of new connections between cells in many important cortical areas.
Dr. Piyanuj also uses easy exercise to treat stroke patients, explaining that this helps stimulate the brain to control muscles and other organs.
One must treat sleep apnea if present. It’s recommended you sleep 7 to 9 hours every night. Lack of sleep can impact your cognition, mood, memory, and learning.
For people who have difficulty sleeping, the doctor said one can try boosting sleep quality by taking Tryptophan or Melatonin but consult your GP first.
Stimulate the brain
The rarely used area of the brain needs stimulation as its performance would decline first.
Challenge your brain by doing things you (your brain) is not familiar with, such as learning a new sport, language, instrument, dance, or even doing mental arithmetic and using your opposite hand to brush your teeth.
Reducing stress helps prevent the overproduction of cortisol that puts your brain and overall health at risk. Choose activities that you find relaxing including reading, listening to music, mindfulness practice or traveling.
Brains need a detox too. According to Dr. Bredesen, three groups of substances that affect the brain are inorganic chemicals such as Co2, organic chemicals such as pesticides and oil, and biotoxins.
Detox rids your brain’s toxic load of substance and negative thoughts. Refrain from smoking and drinking are among the recommended steps. Detoxing oneself is to rid oneself of biological, psychological, and social toxicity. It could be everything from acupuncture, massage, detoxing from technology such as smartphones and detoxing from your negative social circle.
Take necessary supplements
Replenishing vitamin, mineral, and supplement levels as the body depletes them will help the body and brain have a balanced state and work better However, each person has different genetics and other factors including stress levels and other environmental impacts, so needs different types of supplements. Also, dietary needs would change over time, so it is best to get your doctor to recommend a personalized supplement.
By Veena Thoopkrajae
(Further reading: The End of Alzheimer’s : The First Programme to Prevent and Reverse the Cognitive Decline of Dementia by Dr Dale Bredesen)