I'm a Brain Doctor, and This Is What I Do to Prevent Alzheimer's
Despite the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars over the past several decades on the part of pharmaceutical companies, we still don’t have any meaningful treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, in a recent extensive study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the two most commonly prescribed medications for Alzheimer’s disease not only don’t work, but actually may worsen brain function.
In his inaugural address, President Kennedy stated, “The time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining.” We now know that to a significant degree, Alzheimer’s disease may well be preventable. So let’s get out the ladder and fix the roof.
Our most well-respected medical literature reveals powerful relationships between various lifestyle choices and risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic, for example, revealed that deriving most of dietary calories from carbohydrates was associated with an 89% increased risk for either mild cognitive impairment, or full-blown dementia. In their study, those consuming the highest levels of fat actually demonstrated a 44% reduction in risk. And this is in-line with a New England Journal of Medicine Study showing how Alzheimer’s risk is increased in lockstep with blood sugar measurements, a reflection of dietary choices.
Higher levels of physical exercise translate into lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease as well. Even having good levels of vitamin D seems to be associated with a significantly reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
There are certainly a lot of factors that may be associated with either increased or decreased Alzheimer’s risk, but just paying attention to those listed above will move the needle in terms of improving brain health and function an increasing your resistance to Alzheimer’s disease.
I’m a board-certified neurologist with over 30 years of clinical practice under my belt. As a neurologist, I became increasingly frustrated with the idea of simply waiting for something to happen and then hoping there would be a drug to fix it. And to be sure, losing my father to Alzheimer’s disease certainly strengthened my mission to emphasize the importance of prevention as it relates to this devastating illness.
So, let me tell you how I personally leverage the very best science to reduce my Alzheimer’s risk.
• Eating few carbs, lots of healthy fat. Our dietary choices are hugely influential in our overall health, and perhaps nowhere else is this as evident as it relates to brain health. I limit my net carbs to around 30 to 50 g a day, and add in a lot of terrific fat in the form of extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, and wild fish. I also supplement with the omega-3, DHA, 1000mg each day, as well as MCT oil, 1-2 tablespoons daily. This diet, along with the MCT oil, helps to create ketones, a specific type of fat that’s extremely beneficial for brain function and protection.
• Supplementing here and there. Other supplements supported by good science include vitamin D, whole coffee fruit concentrate, turmeric, a good probiotic, and B complex.
• Working out daily. Sure, we know that exercise is good for us and generally makes us feel good, but the extensive literature relating to higher levels of exercise to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease makes it clear that this is a lifestyle choice too good to turn down. So, I do at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity every day, including running, using an elliptical machine, or biking. Resistance training is also very important, and while I do favor free weights, I certainly spend plenty of time using machines as well. Finally, although I can’t specifically relate stretching to directly reducing Alzheimer’s risk, stretching can help reduce your risk of injury and therefore will help prevent you from getting sidetracked from your exercise program.
Hopefully, there will come a day when scientists do develop an effective Alzheimer’s treatment. But for now, we’ve got to do everything we can to implement the science that supports the idea that to a significant degree, Alzheimer’s is a preventable disease.
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