Alzheimer’s can be reversed!

Alzheimer’s can be reversed!

I am so keen to share with you the knowledge that Alzheimer’s disease can be reversed! This was not something ever taught to me during my medical school or specialist training. In my more recent studies I have learnt about the work of Dr Dale Bredesen who has developed the first programme to prevent and reverse the cognitive decline of dementia. He has written an excellent book “The End of Alzheimer’s” and presents many examples of reversing mild cognitive impairment.

We now know that there are changes happening in the brain 10-20 years before symptoms start. Often people feel absolutely fine, then start noticing difficulty recognising and remembering faces, or getting more tired later in the day to do mentally challenging tasks. Other changes an individual or loved one may notice could be a decreased interest in reading or an inability to follow or engage in complex conversation. Sometimes words can be mixed up using a completely wrong word in a sentence. Early physical signs include a change in walking/gait, where someone might make more noise when they are walking, shuffling their feet and taking shorter steps.

Optimising brain health is something dear to me as my wonderful father has Alzheimer’s disease with moderate cognitive impairment. I have seen him slowly decline in communication, energy and endurance, getting lost in new or familiar places, and a slowing and shuffling of his gait. Fortunately he has remained positive and warm-hearted during these challenging times. He is supported by my amazing mother and some additional home help. Mum encourages him to do the concise crossword with her, go for at least a daily walk with her and catch up with friends on a regular basis.

So some of the lifestyle areas to address when looking to reverse Alzheimer’s include:

  • Diet:
    • Avoid all sugars which cause inflammation in the body.
    • Avoid gluten which is inflammatory to 80% of the population and can cause intestinal permeability.
    • Eat a wide variety of colourful fruit and vegetables every day. Aim for a 1, 2, 3 plan: 1 veggie at brekkie, 2 with lunch, 3 at dinner.
    • Ensure you have a 12h gap between meals overnight.
    • Avoid fatty fried foods which have Advanced Glycation End products – these get stuck in the end of tiny capillaries (blood vessels) and can induce AD.
  • Sleep: Aim for 7-8h sleep per night. This is essential for the brain to clear out any debris and be ready for the next day ahead. Lack of sleep = debris build up.
  • Stress: address your stress is one of the most important areas to target. Low-grade chronic stress is terrible for our systems. We were designed to have short bursts of stress that stopped. Work on up-regulating your Rest-and-Digest system (Parasympathetic Nervous System):
    • Sit down to eat
    • Take 3 deep breaths before you start
    • Chew your food well
    • Chill out after a meal
    • Hum, sing, laugh or gargle to stimulate your vagus nerve
  • Dental health: Brush your teeth 3 times a day. Dental health is related to the risk of AD. Mid-life tooth loss and lack of brushing teeth increases risk of AD. See your dentist regularly to check on dental hygiene and conditions like periodontitis.

If you know of someone who would benefit from this information, please share it so they can improve their brain health. As always, if you have a question please email me directly or contact my rooms if you would like to book an appointment.

The Magic of Magnesium

The Magic of Magnesium

The Magic of Magnesium….magnesium is a very important mineral needed in our bodies for many reasons. It is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions and is mainly concentrated in the brain, muscles and bones.

A lack of magnesium in someone’s body may lead to tension, spasms or cramps. Bowels can be sluggish and slow. Brain and mood symptoms may include anxiety, panic, migraines and restless legs causing trouble sleeping. People with Type 2 Diabetes are statistically much more likely to have low magnesium as insulin affects both glucose and magnesium entry into the cell. Do you take a proton pump inhibitor (eg Nexium) or know someone who does? Magnesium levels are often lower in individuals who take these medications long term. See this link for a report by the Food and Drug Authority in the USA.

Why are we so deficient in this essential mineral? 

Many of us eat a diet with practically no magnesium: refined foods eg bread and pasta, dairy and meat contains no magnesium.

Modern lifestyles commonly deplete our magnesium stores:

  • Excess alcohol, salt, coffee and soda
  • Prolonged stress
  • Some intestinal parasites
  • Absorption of magnesium requires vitamin D, B6 and selenium which can be lacking in our diets also.

Where do we easily get magnesium from food?

  • Sea vegetables – seaweed
  • Nuts
  • Greens
  • Beans

We regularly test the amount of magnesium in cells (red blood cell) rather than in the serum (fluid around blood cells) as this gives a longer term result on the amount of magnesium absorbed (over the past 3 months) rather than from intake over the past 24 hours. Depending on testing and symptoms, different types of magnesium supplementation are recommended on an individual basis.

An easy way to relax and absorb magnesium is to have a Epsom salt bath – relax in there for at least 20 minutes to allow the magnesium to be absorbed.
A great pre-sleep routine.

People with severe kidney disease or heart disease should only take magnesium under a doctor’s supervision.