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8 Things Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You About Dementia

An alarming number of women between 38 and 45 years old have come to see me recently experiencing what older women jokingly call "Can’t Remember Jack Syndrome." You ladies in menopause know what I mean! You can't focus or remember names, you feel like you're in a fog, and something just feels off.

Even in your 50s cognitive decline is no joke, especially with Alzheimer's on the rise with twice as many women affected by it compared to men. Alzheimer's begins so slowly that many brush it off as "just aging" – but we should all take this seriously.

In this blog, I’ll share what I’ve discovered about cognitive decline as well as some Dos and Don’ts to keep your brain in good health into your senior years.

What is Good for the Brain? What is Bad?

First, I’d like to summarize what’s good and bad for the brain with some simple infographics. Much of what traditional doctors will tell you about how to protect the brain are all just good habits for overall health. Of course, I agree but want to offer a little advice on some items and mention eight things you don’t normally hear about.

Of the 12 healthy habits noted here which ones do you need to work on? Take a moment now to look at your calendar and schedule time to keep your brain healthy by getting more sleep, prepping healthy meals, learning something new, or connecting with your friends or family.

Other Causes of Cognitive Decline (Doctors Don't Talk About)

1. Parasites, Bacteria, and Viruses

At 45 or older hormonal imbalance may be the cause (more on this later), but impaired cognition can often be linked back to our gut health. Parasites like flukes, viruses, and bacteria can cause all kinds of additional issues that mimic auto-immune diseases since they disrupt the balance of the entire body. Unfortunately, intestinal flukes and parasites are becoming more common. It’s estimated that around 80% of both adults and children have parasites in their gut!

Intestinal Flukes are tiny parasitic organisms that damage the lining of the intestines and interfere with the absorption of nutrients, leading to malnutrition and weakness. They can also cause inflammation and irritation, resulting in abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bloating. In some cases, they can migrate to other organs, such as the liver or lungs, causing additional complications.

Traditional doctors probably won’t mention Flukes because, without the proper scans, they’re difficult to detect and produce nonspecific symptoms that may overlap with other health issues. They’re also the most aggressive and difficult to eliminate parasites (think: months of meds and guesswork). Part of the issue is they can adapt to the body's defenses and develop resistance to traditional medications. Even other integrative medical doctors can test for parasites through a GI Map, but that doesn’t test for all the various pathogens. Nothing to date tests for Flukes that I’ve found except for the Firefly Fscan we use here at the Centre.

You’ve probably heard me talk about Dr. Martin Bales who invented the Firefly Light Therapy and Fscan devices. Using the Fscan to detect these pathogens and then eliminate them quickly with a series of Firefly treatments is the best approach I’ve found for rapid change in brain function and gut health. After 3 treatments we run the Fscan again. I keep the cost low (just $25) for an Fscan so we can help as many people as possible. The next step is to keep your gut healthy! Probiotics and supplementation are helpful – read our full blog post on Resetting Your Gut for guidance. Check our booking calendar for the Fscan and Firefly treatments or a package special.

2. The Truth About Pesticides

According to the food revolution network, “A large body of evidence links pesticide exposure to an elevated rate of chronic diseases, including:

  • Cancer and diabetes

  • Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS

  • Birth defects and reproductive disorders

  • Asthma, COPD, and more

Sadly, the average migrant farm worker in the US only lives to the age of 49. Even organic farmers faced with weeds, insects, and diseases also use some pesticides. While conventional farmers are allowed to use 900 different synthetic pesticides, organic farmers are allowed to use only 25 synthetic pesticides. Luckily, most of the pesticides on the USDA Organic list of allowed substances are natural in origin. The advice here is to buy organic fruits and veggies whenever you can (especially from local farmer's markets).

Avoiding Parasites and Pesticides

Dr. Bales has found so many flukes, parasites, and viruses when scanning patients that he now tells people 3 easy ways to try and avoid them.

  1. When eating salads: Using a large bowl or salad spinner soak veggies and salads in a 10% vinegar solution for 5 minutes and then rinse them before consuming (this also prolongs the life of the veggies ). A 10% salt water solution or a teaspoon of baking soda for every 16 ounces of water for 10 minutes is also effective in removing a large percentage of pesticides from produce if the vinegar taste is detected. This method also removes pesticides. Water alone will not suffice!

  2. Don't eat raw foods or salads at restaurants or anywhere you can't wash them yourself

  3. Avoid Sushi (Say it isn't so!) Don’t eat fish or other seafood raw even if they are bought in a reputable place unless it is stated that it can be eaten raw.

And while we’re on the subject of food…

3. Intermittent Fasting and Skipping Breakfast

Intermittent fasting has gained a lot of popularity and I agree that our digestive systems sometimes need a break, but when you skip breakfast, you’re depriving your body and brain of the glucose needed to keep your brain functioning optimally.

That said, The typical American breakfast is probably the worst thing you can eat for healthy cognitive function." Aside from eggs, all the other things we love like pancakes, potatoes, and carb and sugar-loaded cereals, bagels, and muffins impair cognitive function and will only leave you sluggish or craving carbs later in the day.

Try these quick delicious breakfasts instead:

· ¾ cup of cottage cheese

· crumbled walnuts

· cinnamon

· a handful of blueberries and/or pineapple chunks.

· Add a little pineapple juice to sweeten or a bit of honey and you have an antioxidant and protein-packed kickstart for the day!

Want a hot breakfast? Scramble some eggs with a little salsa, onions, or peppers, top with cheese, and wrap in a low-carb or gluten-free tortilla

If you’re thinking about trying Intermittent Fasting consider this. Researchers found that people using traditional calorie-cutting shed just over four pounds on average, over three weeks, virtually all of which was fat loss. The other group that consumed the same number of calories but incorporated fasting, lost slightly less weight—3.5 pounds on average—but the pounds lost were approximately half fat, half muscle mass. If you’re a woman over 30, you’re already losing 3-8% muscle mass every decade! Loss of muscle mass makes it more difficult for us to stay physically active or maintain our muscle mass, which burns more calories at rest than fat mass.

4. Nutritional Deficiencies

Have you ever eaten a can of soup only to feel hungry an hour later? That’s because packaged foods are nutritionally deficient in addition to being loaded with salt, sugar, and other harmful chemicals. The reason you feel full after eating fast food is simply due to the high fat and carb content. Inadequate intake of essential nutrients like vitamins B12, D, and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals such as iron and zinc, not only negatively affects brain health but also causes mood swings and unsteady energy.

Eat real food! Think fatty fish (e.g., salmon, sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, or fish oil or algae supplements. Vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins will keep your brain and heart happy. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and other bioactive compounds that protect the brain, improve memory and cognitive function (add walnuts and some real whip cream for a delicious dessert!).

Supplementation: We carry many supplements in our pharmacy just for brain health and can help you choose what’s right for you.

5. Hormonal Imbalance and Cognitive Decline

Estrogen and Progesterone play a crucial role in brain health, and their decline during perimenopause and menopause can absolutely cause memory lapses, brain fog, and difficulty concentrating. Balancing hormones through lifestyle changes, herbal remedies, and, if needed, hormone replacement therapy, can help alleviate these symptoms. Ask us about our protocols!

Thyroid hormones: An imbalance in thyroid hormones, such as hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) or hyperthyroidism (excessive thyroid function), causes fatigue, poor concentration, and memory problems, while hyperthyroidism can cause anxiety, irritability, and difficulties with attention.

Insulin: Insulin resistance is associated with conditions like type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Chronically elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance can impact cognitive function and increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Growth hormone: Growth hormone plays a role in cellular repair and regeneration. Low levels of growth hormone can affect brain health and cognitive function, leading to difficulties with memory, attention, and overall cognitive performance.

6. Chronic and Oxidative Stress

Even constant exciting activities cause stress in the body. Are you go-go-go all the time for your kids? Soccer practices, volunteering, planning family vacations–never asking for help? High-stress levels can lead to increased cortisol production, which may impair memory, attention, and decision-making abilities. Implementing stress management techniques such as meditation, exercise, and engaging in enjoyable activities can help.

What does the research say about antioxidants and dementia?

Several studies suggest that “oxidative stress” may play a role in the changes in the brain that cause Alzheimer's disease. Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance between harmful free radicals and antioxidants in the body and can lead to an “attack” on brain cells by these free radicals. One study has shown that the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease show lesions that are typically associated with free radical exposure.

Oxidative stress can be caused by environmental pollutants, toxins, radiation, certain medications, poor diet, chronic inflammation, and even normal metabolic processes. It has been linked to cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, aging, and more.

What are free radicals in the body?

Free radicals are produced by cells as a by-product of energy production and are a result of normal functioning. They have both harmful and beneficial effects on cells. For example, in high concentrations, they can damage proteins and DNA. They can damage cell membranes (the protective covering of cells), cause tissue damage and inflammation, and generally disrupt chemical processes within the body. To prevent this disruption and damage, our bodies naturally make, and acquire from food, molecules that react with free radicals. These are generally called “antioxidants.”

How can we increase antioxidants? In a nutshell: eat the rainbow! We also carry some supplements for this since we know that our soil and air are not producing the most nutritious food nor are our lifestyles always conducive to always eating healthy.

7. How You Sleep

While covering your head while sleeping may make you feel cozy and safe, it can cause a host of cognitive, heart, and lung issues due to prolonged carbon dioxide inhalation. Bacterial infections and skin allergies can arise due to dust particles. This bad habit also increases your heart rate and fatigue due to reduced oxygen. If you’re covering your head to make it dark invest in black-out curtains – I like my bedroom DARK and these curtains were the best $50 I ever spent! If you’re blocking out noise, consider a soothing sound machine with ocean waves or rain.

Speaking of light and sound…

8. Headphones, Noise, EMFs, and Brain Health

The brain is constantly monitoring sounds for signs of danger, even during sleep. As a result, frequent or loud noise can trigger anxiety or stress. With continued exposure to noise pollution, your sensitivity to stress increases and affects your mental health. Noise exposure can lead to short-term impairments in cognitive function, particularly the ability to focus and remember.

When I see young people wearing headphones all the time, I really worry about them. The electromagnetic waves (EMF) headphones generate results in problems for the brain in the short and long term. High decibel noise levels withdraw insulation from nerve fibers that carry signals from the ear to the brain-damaging the hair follicles. When this happens, the cochlea can't relay sound messages to the brain as well. Unlike damage to other parts of your body, inner ear damage never heals.

Some studies suggest that similar to air pollution, chronic exposure to noise pollution may increase the risk for dementia. In a study of 5,227 residents of the Chicago area, global cognitive performance varied with the local neighborhood noise level. The residential noise levels varied from 51.1 to 78.2 dB(A). Each 10 dB(A) increase in residential noise level was associated with a 36% increase in the risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and a 29% increase in the risk for Alzheimer’s disease!

In Conclusion

At the Wellness Centre of Baton Rouge, we want you to remain sharp and defy the statistics! If you feel your cognitive ability slipping don’t buy into the collective ideas we hear about “getting old.” Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. Get moving, keep learning new things, change some habits, and ask for help.

Have questions? Call and ask about Firefly Light Therapy.

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