Can You Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline?
I have spent the past several months getting my certificate in functional medicine for treating and even reversing cognitive decline. You read that right. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are reversible. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have come out of the dark hole of cognitive decline. A disease that was once considered a death sentence and an inevitability for most of us as we age, is, when treated appropriately, preventable and treatable.
In his book The End of Alzheimer’s, Dr. Dale Bredesen brought to light the concept of doctors successfully helping patients recover from Alzheimer’s. He developed a physician training program, called ReCODE, through the Institute of Functional Medicine and I have recently completed this program.
Alzheimer’s is now a leading cause of death in the US and a major contributor to skyrocketing medical costs. It is another chronic degenerative condition that requires not only medications, but long-term care. There are a few prescription drugs that are used to slow down the process of cognitive decline, but none are enough to halt the disease, let alone reverse it.
Types of Alzheimer’s
The somewhat surprising result of Dr. Bredesen’s work is that if we treat Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline the same way we treat all disease in functional medicine, we see positive results. The key fact is that Alzheimer’s is a disease with multiple causes, and when we uncover the cause and treat the patient from that vantage point, we can help someone recover their life.
From my perspective, this means that a thorough history and detailed lab tests are necessary to uncover the root cause of dementia. ReCODE is based on the research that proves that Alzheimer’s is a protective response to major metabolic and toxic perturbations. This led to the discovery that there are several different types of Alzheimer’s, all stemming from different causes, that will respond differently to various treatments.
- Type 1: Inflammatory – these patients tend toward inflammation because of their genetics (ApoE 4) and can be inflamed from multiple causes
- Type 1.5: Glycotoxic – inflammation typically caused by chronically elevated blood glucose and insulin resistance
- Type 2: Atrophic – associated with low levels of vitamin D, hormones, and even low cholesterol
- Type 3: Toxic – caused by exposure to toxic chemicals such as mercury and mold toxins
- Type 4: Vascular – due to vascular events such as stroke or hemorrhage that have decreased oxygen flow to the brain
- Type 5: Traumatic – Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy such as in sports professionals and in people with brain injuries in general
Once the cause is determined, the treatment is based on correcting the cause. The goal is to eliminate the underlying perturbations so that the brain can stop making the amyloid that is mucking up the functioning of the brain. Most symptomatic individuals are manifesting between 10-25 contributing factors.
Finding the Cause
Uncovering the cause is a lengthy and often expensive course. However, it is significantly cheaper and certainly more effective than the current Alzheimer’s medications, long-term care, and eventual death from this disease. In fact, my training in ReCODE has encouraged me to recommend cognitive screenings starting at age 45. A battery of blood tests starting at this age can identify imbalances that, if corrected early, will help to prevent you from ever making amyloids in the first place. To me, this is the golden ticket to health!
Laboratory testing helps us to uncover deficiencies and excesses and points us toward the underlying causes to identify the type of Alzheimer’s a patient has. Then, I use herbs and nutraceuticals to correct those imbalances. Supported by vigorous research and clinical response, specific supplements can help a person return from dementia.
This is a very individualized approach. So, please understand that taking a single supplement for memory is not going to get you the results you want. ReCODE is an effective approach to Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline, but there are no shortcuts. The program is intense and detailed, and it takes hard work. Only a compliant patient will see results.
Foundation for Success
However, the foundation for success in reversing and preventing the disease is the same as the foundation for all health. A healthy lifestyle will do wonders and will, in fact, improve outcomes.
- A healthy, whole foods diet is an absolute requirement for a healthy brain and healthy memory. Elimination of sugar and processed foods with a focus on a large variety of vegetables and healthy fats and proteins provides the body with the essential nutrients for the brain to function properly and for new synapses to form.
- Proper sleep is required for the brain to sweep out toxins and build new connections. Evaluation for sleep abnormalities and treatment for insomnia is an important piece of the puzzle to return a person’s memory.
- Daily exercise improves oxygenation to the brain and the body, allowing for appropriate circulation.
- Stress Management is essential for appropriate blood sugar control, hormone regulation, immune modulation, and good mental health. This step is often skipped and underestimated in importance. However, we know that daily stress management practices can help reverse cognitive decline.
- Social interaction is a better predictor of longevity than smoking status. We need relationships to feel good and be healthy. Stay involved in your community and get social. It really keeps you healthy!
The Future Looks Bright
This is an exciting time in medicine. Dr. Bredesen has helped us discover that we can prevent and reverse cognitive decline with the ReCODE protocol. With this costly disease on the rise, it is a relief to know there is something we can do. All it takes is an educated practitioner – I am ready to take on anyone interested in this protocol – and a very motivated person to make this work.
Schedule an appointment with me today for your cognitive evaluation and we will have you on the road to preventing and reversing this horrible disease.