It can be devastating. And chances are, you know someone who is dealing with it right now.
The forgetting of faces.
The failing of daily activities.
The breakdown of the mind.
Yes, we are talking about Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Alzheimer’s has become the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and this disease (or similar dementia disorders) attributes to 1 in 3 elderly deaths. These staggering figures show the impact these brain diseases have on our society and alerts us to this almost “epidemic-like” health threat.
So why is it becoming so prominent? And, is there anything we can do to prevent it?
Our perspective from a functional medicine point of view just may surprise you…
First, it’s important to understand what dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are. These two terms are sometimes used conversely, but do have two specific definitions.
Dementia is a collection of symptoms from conditions of the brain affecting the daily communication and actions of one’s life. It can be caused by numerous conditions and some forms may be able to be reversed.
Alzheimer’s, on the other hand, is a specific disease of dementia that specifically affect one’s memory, thoughts, recognition, and speech/language. There are currently studies being conducted to determine if Alzheimer’s may be reversible, in which this UCLA study in particular concludes that non-drug treatment may just be the answer. [abc7news.com/336963]
Here is a simple layout of dementia versus Alzheimer’s:
One of the most asked questions is, “what causes dementia and brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s?”
For many western-based physicians, the jury is still out. There is not enough research to point to a specific cause (at least at this time).
However, for functional medicine practitioners, there seems to be a general consensus of the cause of these conditions, commonly referred to as:
Diabetes of the Brain
Type III Diabetes
Specifically, functional doctors (or naturopathic doctors) believe these health issues could be due to insulin-resistance.
And what causes insulin-resistance? Much of it is due to:
– excessive sugar intake
– excessive carb intake
– low vegetable/fruit intake
– little to no exercise
When the body has too high of blood sugar for too long, it can become insulin-resistant, which means it can’t properly digest sugar.
Simply put, this insulin-resistance causes much wear and tear on the brain. The result is that the brain ages too quickly and dementia symptoms or diseases such as Alzheimer’s are diagnosed.
To explain this a little more in-depth, insulin-resistance creates oxidated stress on the brain. Oxidation happens constantly throughout the day in our bodies and anti-oxidants (think healthy fruits and vegetables, green tea, supplements, etc.) help manage and process this oxidation.
Overall, anti-oxidants help mitigate affects of high blood sugar, hence, helping keep our brains healthy!
Is type II diabetes a pre-cursor to Alzheimer’s or vice versa?
Not that we know of.
We are not sure why some people suffer from type II diabetes and not dementia or Alzheimer’s while in others, it does affect the brain specifically.
Everyone is different and each person responds differently to high blood sugar and/or insulin-resistance. For some, this may mean it affects the kidneys or blood flow, etc. while for others it may affect the brain.
Are these brain conditions preventative? What if it runs in my family?
This is where your daily lifestyle plays a major role in the prevention or development of these conditions and diseases.
A healthy lifestyle can do wonders to help prevent or slow any brain declining diseases. And what do these healthy preventions consist of?
Basic personal health care such as:
– maintaining a healthy weight
– keeping blood sugar low, particularly A1C as low as possible
– consistent exercise, specifically interval training which has been shown to help the body use insulin to the best of its ability
– a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, fish, and healthy fats
– restful sleep
– release of chronic stress
– use of melatonin
Seems as though these health care needs are commonly prescribed, but what if restful sleep and a healthy weight are not boxes you can check off? Or if chronic stress is something you just can’t shake?
Then acupuncture may be the next best step to preventing brain disease. Acupuncture can help treat the health aspects needed for prevention.
And what if brain disease is common in your family?
Think of genetics as a car. You can choose to be rough with your car and drive it fast, unsafely, and not take care of it when it needs a tune-up.
Or, you can choose to have regular tune-ups, drive safely and cautiously and be mindful of your driving.
No one knows what will happen or what affects will take place. But chances are greater that if you take better care of your car, you will have less of a chance of it breaking down.
It’s up to you how you choose to take care of it…
If you live in Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Centennial, Parker, Monument, Larkspur, Colorado Springs, or the greater Denver-metro area and have brain health concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team is here to help you navigate preventative questions as well as how to treat forms of dementia and Alzheimer’s with naturopathic therapies.
Please contact us to schedule a free 15 minute consultation with Dr. Graves to learn more on how we can help.
Don’t let your car breakdown. Let’s help you get it running smoothly so you can keep it that way as long as possible.