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Memory tips

July 6th, 2010

9 Steps to Reverse Dementia and Memory Loss as You Age

Most doctors agree that memory loss is NOT a normal part of aging. The sad part was that they don’t have much to offer people in the way of prevention. Their only solution is just a very bad and pretty ineffective selection of drugs with lots of side effects.

But there is another way to think about brain aging. The brain responds to all the same insults as the rest of the body –stress, poor diet, toxins, lack of exercise or sleep, nutritional deficiencies, and more. All we have to do is give the brain a tune-up and we can see miracles.

Dementia on the Rise

Dementia is a big problem and growing every day. Ten percent of 65-year olds, 25 percent of 75-year olds, and 50 percent of 85-year olds will get Alzheimer’s disease — at a cost of $60 billion a year to society. Worse, the number of people with Alzheimer’s is predicted to triple in the next few decades. It is now the seventh leading cause of death.(i)

I believe this preventable, that we can slow this trend and even reverse it. I want to explain why just naming a disease — whether it is dementia or anything else — is becoming increasingly unhelpful (unless you just want to match the drug to the disease which is the only thing doctors are trained to do). Naming a disease does nothing to help us identify and treat the underlying causes of the disease. We must address these causes if we have any hope of helping individuals heal.

I’d like to illustrate this through the story of one of my patients who had a diagnosis of dementia

To put this in perspective, mental decline happens progressively, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but NEVER gets better — according to our traditional medical thinking.

But just like we once thought that heart disease and artery-clogging plaques couldn’t be reversed (and now have proof that this does happen), I believe dementia can be reversed (if caught early enough) by attending to all the factors that affect brain function – diet, exercise, stress, nutritional deficiencies, toxins, hormonal imbalances, inflammation, and more.

It is really quite simple.  You get rid of the bad stuff, put in the good stuff, and the body heals. It’s common sense, but we are so far from that in the way we treat chronic illness with conventional medicine.

9 Steps to Reversing Dementia

Start by looking hard for correctable causes of memory loss. They include:

• Pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome

• Low thyroid function

• Depression

• Deficiencies in B vitamins, especially vitamin B12

• Omega-3 fat deficiencies

• Mercury or other heavy metal toxicity

• Vitamin D deficiency

• High cholesterol

• Unique genes that predispose you to nutritional or detoxification problems

Doctors who practice Functional Medicine can help you find these problems.

Once you identify the underlying causes of the imbalance, here are a few things that can help your mind get a tune-up:

1. Balance your blood sugar with a whole foods, low glycemic diet

2. Exercise daily — even a 30-minute walk can help

3. Deeply relax daily with yoga, meditation, biofeedback, or just deep breathing

4. Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement

5. Take an omega-3 fat supplement

6. Take extra vitamin B6, B12, and folate

7. Take vitamin D

8. Treat thyroid or low sex hormones

9. Get rid of mercury through a medical detoxification program

This is just a start, but it can go a long way to giving your brain the chance to heal and recover if you have memory problems. Even if you aren’t suffering from cognitive decline, you should take these steps because they can help you prevent the aging of your brain.

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, M.D.

References

(i) http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm

(ii) Tsai, M.S., Tangalos, E.G., Petersen, R.C., et al. (1994). Apolipoprotein : Risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. American Journal of Human Genetics. 54 (4):643-649.

(iii) Godfrey, M.E., Wojcik, D.P., and C.A. Krone. (2003). Apolipoprotein E genotyping as a potential biomarker for mercury neurotoxicity. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 5 (3):189-195.

(iv) Stroombergen, M.C., and R.H. Warring. (1999). Determination of glutathione S-transferase me and theta polymorphisms in neurological disease. Human and Experimental Toxicology. 18 (3):141-145.

(v) Bernardini, S., Bellincampi, L., Ballerini, S., et al. (2005). Glutathione S-transferase P1 *C allelic variant increases susceptibility for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease: Association study and relationship with Apolipoprotein E4 allele. Clinical Chemistry. 51(6):944-951.

(vi) Spalletta, G., Bernardini, S., Bellincampi, L., et al. (2007). Glutathione S-transferase P1 and T1 gene polymorphisms predict longitudinal course and age at onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 15 (10):879-887.

(vii) Gundacker, C., Komarnicki, G., Jagiello, P., et al. (2007). Glutathione s-transferase polymorphism, metallothionein expression, and mercury levels among students in Austria. Science of the Total Environment. 385 (1-3):37-47.

(viii) Dorszewska, J., Florczak, J., Rozycka, A., et al. (2007). Oxidative DNA damage and level of thiols as related to polymorphisms of MTHFR, MTR, MTHFD1 in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentals. 67 (2):119-129.

(ix) Rodriguez, E., Mateo, I., Infante, J., et al. (2005). Cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) polymorphism modifies the Alzheimer’s disease risk associated with APOE 4 allele. Journal of Neurology. 253 (2):181-185.

(x) Mutter, J., Naumann, J., Schneider, R., et al. (2007). Mercury and Alzheimer’s disease. Fortschritte der Neurologie-Psychiatrie 75 (9):528-538.

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