Healthy Beginnings

10 steps for healthy brain function: Delaying onset of Alzheimer’s (part 2)

Increase the amount of fish in your diet, such as salmon, as a way to embrace healthy fats.

“Let me tell ya,” Teddy said. “I’m following your damn diet. It ain’t easy going through Christmas without cookies or Steph’s apple pie with ice cream.”

Steph is Teddy’s wife.

“How are you feeling,” I asked. “Any more accidents?”

Teddy’s quest began six months ago. One week after “losing” his car keys in the refrigerator, he drove his ‘78 Lincoln Continental through the back wall of his garage into his kitchen.

“You gotta fix me, Doc,” Teddy pleaded. “I’m getting “old timer’s disease.”

That’s “Wilkes Barre, Pa., talk” for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Never mind Steph ran her own knitting shop, and the “kids” were grown and had families of their own. I knew guys like Teddy wanted to change, but too much change at once meant no change at all.

“Ten steps,” I said.

 

10 steps to a healthy brain

  1. Keep Your Blood Sugar Balanced
  2. Eat Healthy Fats
  3. Get Adequate and Restful Sleep
  4. Enough (but not too much) Vitamin D3
  5. Get Your Gut In Order
  6. Maintain Adequate Methylation
  7. Balance Your Hormones
  8. Six Fixes for A Healthy Heart
  9. Exercise
  10. Lifetime Learning

 

Breaking down the steps

In the January 2018 edition of Healthy Beginnings, we began part one of this series by discussion step one: Keep Your Blood Sugar Balanced.

“I miss all my goodies,” Teddy said, “but look.”

Teddy rubbed his slightly-less-than-the-last-time-I-saw-him massive stomach. Before Thanksgiving, Teddy jiggled in at 295 pounds. Two months later, he’s 272.

“I hate when you’re right,” Teddy said. “I feel great. My blood pressure is normal for the first time in six years. My cholesterol is normal too. I have lots more energy. I even started chasing old Steph around the bedroom. She don’t like it too much. You gotta tune her up, Doc.”

“Ready for the next round?” I asked.

There’s more?” Teddy asked.

“There’s always more,” I replied.

 

Step 2: Eat Healthy Fats

“Twenty years ago, you told me fats were bad,” Teddy said. “All fats.”

“Unlike Fonzie from ‘Happy Days,’” I replied, “I can admit when I’m wrong .”

In addition to carbs, the brain converts fat to energy (20 gm/d) in the form of ketones. Healthy fats restore and renew brain cells (neurons) and brain function. An excellent source of ketone bodies is medium chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil,” according to a 2008 article in the journal “The Cardiovascular Health Study Cognition Study.”

“Coconut oil,” Teddy exclaimed. “You doctors treated coconuts like Dracula treated the sun at dawn. My heart specialist says every patient’s cholesterol should be zero. That’s a big fat Jim Otto double zero. OO.”

“I know, I know,” I said. “Some of us came to our senses and realized that 60% of the brain is fat — and 25 percent of that is docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. DHA is a key component of fish oils, flaxseed oils…

“And coconut oil?” Teddy asked.

“Coconut oil,” I replied. “It is ‘essential,’ namely diet-derived. We need these essential fatty acids in doses ranging from 1-4 grams/day.”

“And I need this why?” Teddy asked.

“DHA synthesizes neurotransmitters, ensuring the smooth functioning of the brain. Adequate fat intake equals adequate verbal fluency and learning. Diminished levels of DHA results in memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease.

“So, 900 mg a day is all you need to help it along.”

“I am what I eat,” Teddy said. “So, what do I eat?”

“DHA rich foods include fish, liver and brains,” I said. “Coconut oil is a rich source of DHA.”

“Can we test for it?” Teddy asked.

“We can test Omega 3s, (the good), Omega 6s (the bad) and Omega 9s (in between) directly, though it can get quite pricey,’ I said. “A good proxy measure of the Omega 3/Omega 6 ratio is c-Reactive Protein (cRP). A normal range is 0-4.9 mg/dL. Optimally we like to see cRP <1.0 mg/dL.”

 

Action Steps:

Increase:

  • Sardines, anchovies, mackerel, herring and wild salmon.
  • Flaxseeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, whole eggs, nuts, and seeds.

Avoid:

  • Hydrogenated vegetable fats in processed foods such as shop-bought cakes and biscuits, hard margarine, takeaways, pastry, pies and fried foods.

 

Step 3: Get Adequate and Restful Sleep

“Sleep lays the groundwork for new mental insights, and it is needed for creativity, memory, and improved physical performance,” I said.

“I only sleep 3-4 hours,” Teddy said. “I don’t want to miss anything.”

“Dummkopf,” I said, slapping Teddy upside his head. “You’re missing everything. You’re a walking zombie all day long. You fall asleep as soon as you sit still for three minutes.

“Sleep deprivation causes decreased vitamin C, zinc and magnesium levels, and malfunctioning of the immune system lowering serotonin and melatonin. Lack of sleep results in sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings. And then, you get fat.”

“So, what to do,” Teddy asked.

 

Action Step:

  • 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night for optimal brain function.

Teddy yawned.

“That’s enough for today,” he said.

“Next month, we cover Vitamin D and your stomach,” I said.

“Great,” Teddy said. “I need a nap and a hot dog.”

With 33 years of medical experience, Reno physician William Clearfield, D.O., of the Clearfield Medical Group provides patients with treatment plans that boost their overall quality of life. Visit www.DrClearfield.net or call 775-359-1222 to learn more.