There has been recent press on a new drug treatment to help with Alzheimer’s. That’s great if it can help but if it’s being developed by a pharmaceutical company you can be rest assured it only deals with symptoms and not cause. (Treatment of symptoms is repeatable business, cause cessation is not good business).
But what if there was a way to mitigate future problems and possibly improve the brain health of those that already have it.
If you are here you will have a general understanding of the effects of what we eat has on our weight and body fat composition but how many of you understand the impact of our diets and lifestyles on brain health?
Changes in the brain begin decades before Alzheimer’s symptoms and the absolute best way we can move the needle on this disease is through minimising risk when it matters most; NOW!
It’s nothing to do with old age
Contrary to popular belief, Alzheimer’s is not a natural part of the aging process. With no known cure for the disease, more attention is being put towards prevention.
Thoughts around prevention is at the pioneer stage. One such pioneer is Dr. Richard Isaacson, he is an example of one of these cutting edge thinkers in the field of neurology who are helping to usher in this idea of prevention.
Alzheimer’s is not a hereditary disease. Although up to 20% of the population of the western world have an elevated genetic risk factor, genes don’t set your destiny. Not everyone with this increased genetic risk goes onto develop Alzheimer’s, and not everyone with Alzheimer’s has this genetic risk factor.
Changes can begin in the brain nearly 30 years before the first symptom can show up.
So: what lifestyle changes can you make in order to help prevent Alzheimer’s?
1. Adequate Sleep
Sleep is vitally important, especially in today’s society where we are constantly glued to our Smartphones 24 hours a day.
There was a study recently that showed just using your iPad before bed disrupts your REM sleep. The importance of this is because it’s during sleep, especially deep sleep, that your brain is cleansing itself of the kind of plaque that they find in Alzheimer’s patients.
So, get enough quality sleep and also try and minimise your iPad, iPhone and Android device usage before bed. This is one way to help your brain health.
2. Effective Exercise
It goes without say that exercise is vitally important. Undertake effective movement as I’ve described previously. This is sprint training and it is anaerobic exercise. They’ve found that anaerobic versus aerobic is far more beneficial due to the biochemical changes that occur. Exercise has been shown over and over again to be beneficial not just for the physiology of the brain, but that anaerobic exercise can promote neurogenesis which is the creation of new brain cells, and it also improves your actual working memory.
Effective Exercise is one of the greatest things you can possibly do for your brain.
Exercise promotes insulin sensitivity, and that’s vital to making sure that your cells are fed.
3. Appropriate Vitamin D Level
Make sure your vitamin D levels are optimized. Vitamin D regulates up to the expression of 1,000 genes which is actually 5% of the human genome, so vitamin D is massively important. I take a vitamin D3 supplement every day. Rule of thumb is 1000iu’s (international units) per 25lbs of bodyweight. It’s important that Vitamin K2 is taken along with Vitamin D3.
4. Effective Nutrition
Diet is huge. Based on research, it is best eat a low carbohydrate diet and consume more healthy fats. There are a lot of hints that at least part of the underlining pathology of Alzheimer’s could be metabolic in origin. The brain is a very metabolic-hungry organ as it consumes 20% of your base metabolic rate.
It goes without say that you should reducing if not eliminating all refined sugars.
Also try to eat in a way that keeps your cells as insulin sensitive as possible. Insulin is the hormone that your pancreas secretes when there’s sugar in your blood.
Insulin resistance is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes, and the way to avoid that is to stay active and to minimize your sugar intake. So, for optimum brain health, go a step further and minimise your carbohydrate intake and start consuming more healthy fats such as grass fed butter, avocado’s eggs and oily fish.
So: why you may ask is there a picture of a loaf of bread at the start of this and why is it titled
“Can you improve your brain by ditching bread?“
We’ve been told for decades to avoid processed foods, but when you look at bread, it has a glycemic index, higher than table sugar and the CDC in 2012 ascertained that it’s America’s number one source of dietary sodium. So you have this thing that has all the hallmarks of processed foods yet it’s masquerading as a health staple. Whole grain bread is one of those things that you are brought up to believe that the more you ate the better your health would be, but in reality it spikes your blood sugar more intensely than table sugar. So again, we want to keep ourselves as insulin sensitive as possible for many reasons, not just brain health, and bread (along with pasta for the same reason as bread) is one of those things that should be consumed in moderation.
So, to wrap up:
The eagle eyed amongst you notice that the 4 effective steps above are more or less the same as those for losing weight and having good health. The dots are all starting to join up!
It’s like a weird thing. I used to do these things only for body fat or for cardiovascular health, and now it’s like giving my brain a tonic and all the other great brain derived neurotrophic factors that you boost just by doing exercise and consuming healthy fat.
Effective Health is all encompassing for brain and body.
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