One of the biggest fears for many of my patients is that they’ll lose their mental function when they find out that they have Alzheimer’s or any other type of cognitive impairment that affects their mind. It’s the scariest thing on the planet for them and I get it, no one wants to be sitting in a nursing home not knowing who they are or who their loved ones are.
Right now we’re in a memory loss epidemic. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death here in the United States and it’s a frightening disease that slowly destroys your memory and thinking skills, and it’s just one of several types of dementia that can severely interfere with your daily life.
We used to believe that your brain’s state was beyond your control, but now we know that throughout your life, we all have the ability to add brain cells and create new connections. And research supports roughly 60% of Alzheimer’s cases can be prevented with lifestyle changes. That’s pretty amazing! So that’s why I’ve gathered experts in the field who will share some of the best ways to help you maintain your brain.
Kathy Bonanno joins me to share how she once struggled with memory issues. Kathy was very concerned as she was having trouble remembering things and suffered from brain fog. At times she thought she was losing it.
At first Kathy wasn’t concerned about forgetting names, however, her memory and concentration were getting gradually worse. At a conference she attended, she had such trouble thinking and concentrating, she even thought she was having a stroke! Kathy shares how changing her diet and cutting out certain foods helped her get over brain fog and improve her brain power.
Dr. Steven Masley is a physician, nutritionist, trained chef and author of The Better Brain Solution. At his clinic, they’ve identified what impacts brain processing speed and also looked at the impact of food, nutrients, activity, stress management, and toxins. His research focuses on the impact of lifestyle choices on brain function, heart disease, and aging. He believes if you start early enough and follow his program, up to 90% of Alzheimer’s disease could be prevented. That is pretty impressive.
Dr. Masley brought an amazing spread of healthy foods and during our discussion, he explains how each one can help your brain. He says that if you eat green leafy vegetables every day, “Your brain’s 11 years younger than if you don’t.” Dr. Masley also talks about how certain foods like berries, dark chocolate, beets, and healthy fats impact our brain. Did you know that your brain is mostly fat? It’s 60% fat. So we want to eat healthy fats as they nourish our brain which helps makes it quicker and sharper. Dr. Masley also explains how it’s important to control blood sugar as “blood sugar is the number one cause for memory loss.” You’ll be quite impressed with the wealth of information he shares on how to improve your brain through food in this episode.
Erin Basile Sears joins me to share some simple stress-busting tips. She’s a certified health coach, yoga teacher, group exercise instructor and co-founder of The Transform Five Healthy Living Plan.
Erin had her fair share of health issues. She tells me that she was a “very sick and tired, super-stressed out, college student.” She was depressed, overweight, and her physical, emotional, and mental health suffered. And then she ended up in the hospital. That’s when she realized she really needed to look at what was underneath all of the behaviors. And stress was having a domino effect on her health. Erin tells me that exercise, mantras, prayers and other habits truly helped her. And now she is here helping others. So Erin and I talk about the importance of movement and how it can help our body open its own medicine bottles. I quite like how she explains this, “We all have an internal pharmacy and particularly, we think of our brain as a beautiful garden. It is this beautiful, magnificent garden that needs to be watered and movement is one of the ways that open the blood vessels in our bodies and helps the brain to be fertilized.” Erin has plenty of other excellent advice like having an attitude of gratitude and how it’s important to replace stressful thoughts with positive ones.
Dr. Bredesen is a professor of neurology and the founding president of the Buck Institute. He’s also the author of the amazing New York Times bestselling book, The End of Alzheimer’s.
When it comes to Alzheimer’s, we’ve heard for years that this is all about having amyloid in your brain and getting plaques and tangles. But Dr. Bredesen tells us that this is actually a protective response that your brain makes. He says, “You are responding to long-term inflammatory processes, various pathogens, eating trans fats, eating too much sugar – all these sorts of things. Or you are responding to trophic withdrawal, estradiol, testosterone, nerve growth factor, vitamin D, you can go down the list, thyroid hormone.” And all of these are critical when it comes to having excellent cognition. He also shares how our various toxins like mercury and mycotoxins can also cause a protective response. Alzheimer’s is not a disease with one cause, there are many different factors. Dr. Bredesen shares an analogy, “Imagine you have a roof with 36 holes in it. We want to cover each of the holes and a drug is fine. Drugs are good but they cover only one hole. So if you’re gonna do a drug fine, but then make sure to cover all the other holes.” He shares what some of these other holes are during our interview along with a number of things you can do to help your brain process on a much healthier level.
Also joining me is Dr. Tom O’Bryan, a world-renowned expert in the field of gluten-related disorders. He tells us that the brain has a cheesecloth around it just like the gut has a cheesecloth on the inside of the tube. And when you have a leaky gut, it means the cheesecloth has torn. The same happens when you get a leaky brain.
Now, when you get a leaky brain, there are things in the blood that aren’t supposed to get into the brain. The cheesecloth is there to protect your brain but when it’s torn, molecules can get in the blood or into the brain. Dr. O’Bryan explains, “It activates the immune system and you get inflammation in the brain and that triggers depression, anxiety, autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc. All of the brain degenerative conditions have to have the leaky brain first that triggers all the inflammation.” So how do you know if you have a leaky brain? Well, Dr. O’Bryan discusses the B4 test, a simple blood test that looks for markers of the tears in the cheesecloth or the blood-brain barrier. He also talks about how it’s important to take care of the body and how food can trigger inflammation (the biggest trigger of all).
It’s important that folks with Alzheimer’s get the help they need. My last guest is Rebecca Holland, a nurse and the director of resident care at an assisted living and memory care licensed home called My Doctor’s Inn.
At My Doctor’s Inn, they adapted the Montessori approach, which has been proven to reduce anxiety and dementia in Alzheimer’s residents. It really helps folks engage one-on-one with the caregiver and it does wonders, helping them reconnect with the world that they are sadly losing touch with. Rebecca explains that the Montessori program uses all five senses, engaging the resident in different ways. With dementia, people’s short term memories start to fade away but those long term memories are intact. And this method really helps to bring long-term memories forward. Rebecca says it “helps them be able to do things that they used to love doing prior to having dementia and Alzheimer’s and ultimately helps them reconnect with their world.” Rebecca also discusses enhancing the quality of life and the importance of nutrition for residents.