Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Inflammation Link to Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease!

Many of the articles on this blog have dealt with how to reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's Disease by focusing on eating the proper diet, exercising, getting enough sleep, treating symptoms of dementia and staying socially active.  Some of these behaviors, especially improving your diet, can also lower the level of systemic inflammation in your body.

Inflammation has now been connected to a number of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia.  According to Dr. Douglas DiSiena, the co-author of "Possibility Thinking: Adding Years to Your Life and Life to Your Years," one-third of the cases of Alzheimer's Disease and dementia could be prevented through dietary and lifestyle changes.  This is significant, because people over the age of 85 have a 47 percent chance of developing some cognitive decline.  If you do not want to suffer from this cognitive decline as you age, below are the actions you can take to protect your brain health.

Lab Tests to Determine Your Level of Inflammation

In a lecture by Dr. DiSiena, which I attended, he recommended that people first need to determine the current level of inflammation in their body.  In order to do this, they should ask their doctor for the following blood tests in order to determine their level of inflammation:

HS CPR or High Sensitive C-Reactive Protein - a level of 1 or lower is ideal.

A1C - This tests your blood sugar levels over the preceding three months - A score of 4.4 to 5.2 is ideal, although a score of 5.3 to 5.5 is OK.  This test will determine if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic. (Scores over 5.6 indicate pre-diabetes; high scores indicate diabetes.)

Test Your Current Level of Cognitive Function

Take a Standardized Mini-Mental State Examination (SMMSE) - You can find examples of the test online and ask a friend to give it to you.  You can also ask your doctor or therapist to give it to you. The websites explain how to score the test.  After making some of the healthy changes recommended in this article, take the test again and see if your scores have improved.

Causes of Inflammation

If you have inflammation anywhere in your body (such as gum disease or an injury), it will affect your brain and cause increased brain shrinkage.  There are a number of possible causes of any inflammation you may be experiencing:

A high carb diet which is heavy on grains and processed foods
Toxins, including drugs and heavy metals like aluminum in the blood
Trauma, such as a concussion or other injuries
Negative thoughts

Your Brain Can Recover at Any Age

The good news is that your brain has neuroplasticity.  If you currently have impaired cognitive function, it is almost never to late to reverse course and make diet and lifestyle changes which can reduce your inflammation and improve your test scores and brain function.

Try to eat a Mediterranean based diet, which relies heavily on vegetables, followed by nuts, fish like salmon or tuna, and olive oil.  This diet should increase the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids you consume and reduce the amount of Omega-6 fatty acids.  Taking an Omega-3 capsule can help you maintain the proper balance.

Neurofeedback training has also been shown to directly improve brain function.  In some studies, after 20 neurofeedback sessions the patients were able to improve their scores on the SMMSE (Standardized Mini-Mental State Examination) by six points.  That can make the difference between having a score which indicates cognitive decline and one which indicates healthy brain function.

Making the right dietary and lifestyle changes can be the difference between slowly losing your cognitive function and remaining mentally sharp for the rest of your life.  

If you want to learn more about preventing dementia and other common medical problems as we age, as well as retirement planning, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page for links to hundreds of additional articles.

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