Top Santé’s resident GP Dr Rangan Chatterjee delves into some new research on preventing and, in some cases, even reversing early-onset Alzheimer’s.
A topic so many people ask me about is Alzheimer’s. There are currently 850,000 people living in the UK with dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form.
As our population continues to live longer, it’s crucial we adopt healthy lifestyles to ensure that not only do we have long lifespans but also long healthspans.
At the forefront of AD research and treatment is professor Dale Bredesen , who in 2014 and 2016 published several case studies demonstrating the reversal of mild-to-moderate cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients.
Although still in its infancy, what’s great about Dr Bredesen’s approach is that it’s personalised, so no two people get the exact same plan. It’s also base on nutrition and lifestyle rather than relying on drugs.
In fact, Prof Bredesen spent 30 years in a lab trying to find a pharmaceutical cure for AD but to no avail. He concluded that a ‘magic bullet’ would remain elusive because there are at least 36 different pathways in the body through which Alzheimer’s can manifest itself. While it might be possible to create a drug to fix one of these, it wouldn’t be enough to radically improve symptoms overall.
Let food be thy medicine
On Dr Bredesen’s plan, sugar is eliminated because it can drive a condition called insulin resistance, which can contribute to AD. So, reducing sugar and simple carbs has positive effects on the brain.
Being active is important too, as it increases the production of a brain hormone called BDNF. This helps lay down new brain-based nerve cells.
Relaxation is also prescribed as chronic stress is thought to cause structural changes in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved with memory.
I believe all doctors ought to be implementing these principles to improve the mental health of our population. In the meantime why not try adopting some healthy lifestyle habits such as those below.
Rangan’s healthy brain prescription
Reduce your intake of simple sugars. This includes biscuits, muffins and donuts of course, but also those hidden sugars to be found in jars of sauce, breakfast cereals, most soft drinks and even some nut milks.
Increase your intake of brain-friendly omega-3 fats. Find these in fish such as wild salmon, sardines and anchovies. Eat at least four portions per week.
Stay active. Aim for 10,000 steps every day.
Schedule in at least one relaxation session a week, whether it’s a yoga class or meditation at home.
Prioritise sleep. When you’re asleep, your brain clears ‘waste’ and also forms new memories.
Do some form of brain training. Dr Bredesen recommends Brain HQ (brainhq.com).
Coming next… Dr Chatterjee discusses the importance of physical movement for health
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