By Dr. LEAH HAHN, D.C.
When I think of my life and the aging process, one of the most terrifying visions I have is not being able to recognize my family and loved ones. I work hard to consciously plan and do things with my family that will make good memories, and the thought of losing those memories is depressing, if not terrifying. Even worse, the thought of my son having to spend years of his life taking care of me when he should be enjoying his own family makes me sick to my stomach.
Sadly, that it is the truth for too many American families. The number of Americans living with Alzheimers is growing rapidly, now up to 5.7 million. Statistics indicate that 50% of 85-year-olds, 25% of 75-year-olds, and 10% of 65-year-olds will develop Alzheimers. It’s predicted that by 2050 Alzheimers will affect 106 million people and be the 7th leading cause of death. The need for care of these Americans is increasing. Look around at the number of new construction projects that, when completed, will house long-term care facilities. If Alzheimers and other degenerative diseases continue at their current rate of growth, it could bankrupt our economy. Depressing as this is, realize that understanding physiology and what we are learning about the brain, can help you make decisions that greatly diminish your risk of Alzheimers.
Some new research has labeled Alzheimers as “Type 3 Diabetes.” Your brain uses glucose as fuel. As with diabetes, eating too many carbohydrates and not enough fat increases blood sugar levels that elevate the risk for Alzheimers. We produce insulin to usher the blood sugar into our cells for fuel. Over time, the function of the insulin response becomes altered and blood sugar remains high while cells are not receiving the fuel they need. Over the years, this has a negative effect on the brain, as it is no longer receiving the nourishment it needs. While it may seem like Alzheimers develops quickly, in reality it takes years for the effects of poor blood sugar regulation to take effect and for and the symptoms of this cruel disease to become manifest.
Even more alarming, studies show that the increased use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs has a negative effect on brain health (depression, anxiety, fatigue as well as cognitive decline). Statins also have been shown to elevate blood sugar, increasing the link between statin use and brain health issues. Research is demonstrating that because statins don’t actually address the root cause of high cholesterol in the first place, they don’t actually lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease for most people. Emerging research about statins decreasing brain health is downright alarming. This issue will continue to be researched. In the meantime, the number of statin-taking patients complaining of memory loss, cognitive issues, and depression will surely rise. Like you, I’m sure, I want to:
- Age well — know my name, have full control of my body and enjoy activities that are important to me.
- I want to know the root cause of a health issue if it emerges, e.g. if I have high cholesterol, I want to know why and what I can do about it, rather than take a drug that could increase the risk of brain health issues.
- Enjoy health and quality of life now, experiencing vitality so I have the energy to make memories for later in life.
Did you know that 60% of the brain is fat? The brain (and many other organs of your body) loves fat. Work to get over your fear of eating healthful fat (avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil). Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet (walnuts, almonds, flax seeds, cold-water fish, dark leafy greens) are fuel for the brain. Your brain loves consistent exercise and at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Mindfulness exercises improve brain health. Vitamin D3 levels are incredibly important for function of the brain. Avoiding artificial coloring, additives, and MSG is critical for brain health. Your brain loves this lifestyle. So how do you implement it?
Welcome to 8 Weeks to Wellness, the program that gives you the knowledge, power, and accountability to change your life and dramatically decrease your risk factors for Alzheimers. Most of want to live a healthy lifestyle, but without guidance and individualization, it can be difficult to implement the changes that bring positive results, health and vitality. If you would like to learn more about 8 Weeks to Wellness. Check out our website: www.BodyInBalanceChiropractic.com. We look forward to helping you create Health by Choice, not by Chance.
[This article appeared on August 2, 2018 in the Denver Post. The author is the functional medicine doctor of my brother, who lives in Golden, Colorado. For those of us who don’t live in or near Golden Colorado, there is an ever increasing amount of information on the internet, in books and through numerous health websites that give guidelines to a healthier lifestyle. We all need to become proactively involved and, in effect, become the CEOs of our own health.]