Healthy Beginnings

Alzheimer’s should be a rare disease

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We have all heard that getting dementia or Alzheimer’s is pretty much untreatable, but new studies have brought new hope on this dreaded disease.

Dr. Dale Bredesen of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging says, “Alzheimer’s should be a rare disease and it can be stabilized or reversed.” There are many possibilities that can help your brain to stay young.

ALZ (Alzheimer’s) disease first attacks the hippocampus, the part of the brain that plays a key role in memory and learning. Remaining mentally and physically active by doing crafts like beadwork, knitting, quilting, calligraphy or anything that gets your creative juices flowing works.

Repetitive motions activate the parasympathetic nervous system, thus relieving stress and inflammation. They have also been shown to release serotonin, a natural anti-depressant. Getting involved in classes or clubs connected to your hobby also provides a social connection that’s of huge value for preserving mental health.

Dancing is not just for the Stars. It has been found through numerous studies that dancing enhances several brain functions at once: musical, emotional, rational and kinesthetic (the connection between body and brain).

It fires up thousands of neural pathways, and when done consistently, it keeps your brain firing on all cylinders. Dances like the foxtrot or cha-cha require two people to be in sync with each other and the music. This takes a tremendous amount of concentration that builds more neuroplasticity.

Your diet plays another huge role in brain health. According to Dr. Glen Rothfeld, “An excellent diet is truly the most important aspect of preventing most health problems, including cognitive decline.” In fact, there are several doctors and much research linking blood sugar problems to higher risk of ALZ disease.

So here we go again — eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates. Eat a wide array of colorful vegetables, especially cruciferous veggies like broccoli and kale, which have been shown to help your health and your mind.

Try to eat toxin-free (organic and grass fed meats, especially chicken and fish). Toxins build up in the brain, and according to Dr. Bredesen, can start early onset ALZ in your 50s, affecting decision-making, planning and visual perception.

Probiotics will help increase the beneficial bacteria that line your GI tract and, in the last decade, it has been found to prevent anything from cancer to obesity to heart issues to depression.

Many vitamins and supplements have also been found to improve brain function. B vitamins, specifically B-6, B-12 and Folic Acid, were found in a study to ease the symptoms of mental decline by decreasing Homocystein, a potentially harmful protein that shrinks the brain. Their levels of Homocystein dropped and memories improved and depression faded.

Turmeric has also been found through studies to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. For example, in 2006, researchers published a study that found 1,000 people between the ages of 60 and 93 who did not have ALZ had significantly better test results in cognitive function if they ate turmeric often or very often, than those that did not eat it.

You are not stuck with the brain you have — you can make it better by putting it in a healing environment. Feeding it right, exercising it (and you), removing toxins from your environment, getting enough sleep and taking vitamins that will supplement your diet and support your brain all will help to get back that young brain we all seek.

Elaine Brooks is owner of The Herb Lady, located in Sparks. Visit or call 775-356-1499 to learn more.