Do you have a loved one with dementia? If yes, you know how heartbreaking this disease can be. It is a terrible sight watching your family member waste away from the inside out. My father-in-law died of Alzheimer’s at age eighty-six; he was genetically predisposed to this condition. However, with implementing some of these modalities, the disease was held off until his mid-eighties.
I understand the destructive effects of these chronic diseases of the brain. At the age of ninety, my mother suffers from dementia. She had a stroke five years ago, and the effects of it were irreversible. She lives with my sister and the toll on the caregiver is rough. Each of my siblings relieves her as much as possible.
Dementia is a chronic brain disease that affects memory, thinking, and social ability. Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia, accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. These devastating diseases have quickly become an epidemic, with over 5.7 million adults suffering from them. Most of us know someone who has one of these diseases. Eventually, individuals who have dementia cannot take care of themselves. However, if caught in the early stages, therapeutic interventions can improve and possibly prevent these diseases.
Top 10 Therapeutic Dementia & Alzheimer’s Interventions
Scientific studies found the following interventions improved the effects of these brain diseases when they were implemented early in the disease process.1
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- Consume a low-glycemic, low-grain, anti-inflammatory diet to decrease inflammation and insulin resistance. The book 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates will help you implement this low-carb, low-sugar diet.
- Do not eat anything three hours before going to bed and fast for twelve hours each night (from dinner until breakfast). For example, if you eat dinner at 7 p.m. and go to bed at 10 p.m., you should not eat a snack after dinner. These two interventions reduce insulin levels.
- Reduce stress and cortisol levels through performing activities such as Christian yoga, meditation, or listening to music. Christian meditation focused on Bible verses or contemplative prayer may be helpful. Scripture Yoga combines the practice of yoga while focusing on Bible verses.
- Sleep eight hours each night. If you have insomnia and are not able to sleep for eight hours, try taking a supplement such as melatonin 0.5 mg before bed or tryptophan 500 mg three times a week.
- Exercise for 30-60 minutes four to six times per week. Exercise is a fundamental component of brain health.
- Optimize dental hygiene by using an electric toothbrush and electric water flosser (Waterpik) and semiannual dental cleanings. You want to prevent gingivitis and a buildup of bacteria in the gums (which is very close to the brain).
- Obtain optimal gastrointestinal health through taking prebiotics and probiotics to decrease inflammation. Dr. Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, recommends a probiotic that contains at least ten billion active cultures from at least ten different strains of beneficial bacteria.
- Take a B-complex supplement to maintain adequate levels of B vitamins because there is a relationship between low levels and cognitive decline. Ask your physician to order a blood test to check your B vitamin and homocysteine levels:
- Take vitamin B12 and folate supplements if your homocysteine level is less than six. If your B12 level is less than 500, then supplement with B12 1mg/day.
- May need to take a folate supplement of up to 0.8 mg/day and vitamin B6 supplement 20-50 mg/day. Vitamin B5 helps increase focus. Your doctor can prescribe the level of each B vitamin based upon your laboratory results. If B12 is low, your doctor may even recommend a series of weekly vitamin B12 injections.
- Check your vitamin D level with the lab test—25OH-D3. If it is lower than 50ng/ml, you should take vitamin D3 2000-5000 IU/day. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk for brain-related disorders. Again, your doctor can recommend an appropriate dosage. My mother was prescribed a monthly mega dose vitamin D supplement and weekly B12 shots.
- Diagnose and treat sleep apnea to ensure sufficient breathing when sleeping so your brain receives enough oxygen.
In addition to these ten interventions, ask your physician to check your fasting insulin level. If it is above normal, you may be developing insulin resistance, a contributing factor to dementia. High blood-sugar levels, from consuming too much sugar and processed food, leads to type 2 diabetes and dementia. Both of these conditions are on the rise. The first intervention listed above, the low-carbohydrate diet, is essential for optimal brain health.
Dementia destroys the individual’s memory, thinking skills, and ability to carry out basic functions. I’ve experienced the heartbreak when your own parent doesn’t recognize you. The expense and emotional toll of taking care of a loved one with one of these diseases are overwhelming.
Take the initiative early (as early as the mid-50s) and implement these ten simple interventions to decrease your chance of developing dementia. If you have a loved one in the early stage of one of these diseases, change the person’s diet and implement these suggestions to delay the effects of the disease process for as long as possible.
Dale E. Bredesen Reversal of Cognitive Decline: A Novel Therapeutic Program. Aging. 2014. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4221920/
About the Author
Susan U. Neal, RN, MBA, MHS, is an author, speaker, and health coach. Her mission is to improve the health of the body of Christ. She is the author of the award-winning book 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates and the Healthy Living Journal.
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