In the book " The End of Alzheimer's" Dr. Dale Bredesen describes dementia in the patient's brain as being like a house with 36 holes in the roof. There is not one factor to address but many. Patching one hole will still leave a leaky roof. You need to cover as many holes as possible to see a positive change. I love this analogy. It's not about finding a magic pill it's about cleaning up your entire health, this is what Naturopathy is all about. Treating the person and not the disease optimizes all aspects of your health including your level of cognition.
Here are just some of the areas you can address to help prevent cognitive decline and or slow the progression of dementia.
* Systemic inflammation can contribute to increasing the permeability of the blood-brain barrier. When this occurs substances that should not be passing into the brain get through and promote further inflammation and damage to the brain. Things like metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, uncontrolled diabetes, and obesity all promote systemic inflammation.
* Infections are another problem. You might not realise that infections can pass from your mouth, sinus, eyes, and ears into your brain. The biggest researched links connect gingivitis and cold sore occurrences to cognitive decline. With the herpes family, it's not that you have this virus that's the problem it's the amount of reactivation. Use natural or pharmaceutical anti-virals if needed to break the reactivation cycle.
* Rising homocysteine levels are linked with brain atrophy. If you have never had your levels tested before, it's a fasting test. Ideally, you want this number 8 or lower.
* While you are testing check your level of metals. Have you ever read Alice in Wonderland? One of the characters here is a Mad Hatter. He had mercury poisoning. It's long been recognised that metal contaminant damages your brain. Hair testing is the most accurate way to assess chronic metal contamination. Chemical toxins and mycotoxins (toxins from mould) also damage your brain - please consider cleaning up your environment with our Healthy Homes for Healthy Hormones program.
* Your risk of dementia is higher if you have an auto-immune condition. Auto-immune conditions occur when your immune system turns and starts attacking itself. The brain itself can be a target for your immune system, but having an auto-immune condition elsewhere in the body also increases your risk. Please know that there are several ways to reduce antibodies, but unfortunately, they aren't in your family doctor's toolbox, you will need to see a Naturopath or Functional doctor to access some of these options.
* Nutritional deficiencies affect your entire body including your brain. Your brain needs them all but these nutrients have been linked with cognitive decline if you are deficient. Vitamin B, D, E, K, Zinc, Magnesium, Selenium, Sodium, Potassium, and Omega 3.
* Gluten and other food sensitivities create inflammation and increased intestinal permeability. There is a link between intestinal permeability and increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier. Food intolerances can also upset your microbiome. When you have a healthy microbiome you produce a lot of the post-biotic called butyrate and this helps to heal any increased permeability. Imbalanced microbiomes produce Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and this increases the permeability and makes everything worse.
* Sleep apnea, reduces the oxygenation of your brain overnight. It fragments your sleep so you miss out on different stages of the sleep cycle and can even create swings in your intrathoracic pressure (cerebrospinal fluid). Sleep is so important, as it's when your glymphatic system awakes up and cleans your brain. When you have interrupted sleep this doesn't occur and you can feel the results instantly. Headaches, cognitive difficulties, fatigue. I see sleep and the glympahtic response as your brain taking a bath and washing away all the dirt from the day. When your sleep gets interrupted and your brain doesn't get to clean itself, problems can start to occur.
I want to leave you with this message, cognitive decline at peri-menopause is not dementia.
Dr. Sarah McKay explains that Cognitive decline is like not being able to find your keys. Dementia is not knowing what keys are. This is a huge difference. If you are struggling with your cognitive health, please consider booking a consultation. There are too many factors to cover (36 of them actually) to do this on your own. Click here to book an appointment.
This is my conversation with Ann Marie McQueen about cognitive health
Podcast 128 - Cognitive Health with Ann Marie McQueen
Here is a previous blog that may interest you Menopausal Memory
Links to research