How to use naturopathy to help protect yourself from Alzheimer’s
In recent years an American physician called Dr Dale Breseden has come to the forefront of those seeking a natural holistic approach to support cognition, brain health and to help protect against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. He has published several books showing how his own protocols have reversed Alzheimer’s.
Whilst I do not have his expertise and would not make a claim that someone with such a disease could reverse it, I recognise that our diet and lifestyle can have a dramatic impact on our risk factors for many chronic conditions and brain health should be no different.
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease that accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. Whilst it is most common in the elderly, it should not be seen as a normal part of ageing [Alzheimer Society]. Shockingly, the leading cause of death in the UK in 2022 was dementia and Alzheimer’s [ONS]
It’s time to take action!
These steps form part of the essential protocols of Dr Dale Breseden and are part of my naturopathic approach to healthy ageing. I covered many of these at my Retreat Days this year.
These are the basic but effective steps you should follow to help protect yourself from becoming one of these dreadful statistics.
Keep Omega-3 (especially EPA/DHA) high with Omega-6 low. Omega-6 is pro inflammatory to the body, whilst EPA/DHA are anti-inflammatory. Oils like vegetable, sunflower, safflower, corn and soya oils should not be part of the diet as they create oxidative stress and free radicals that damage cells especially when they are heated. They also damage the mitochondria- the power houses of every cell, including neurons. This can have a major impact on energy production throughout the body, including the brain.
Choose your oily fish carefully, though. Wild Alaskan salmon is the cleanest (least polluted) and preferable to farmed salmon. Mackerel and sardines are also good sources. Avoid tuna with its high mercury levels. And supplement with high grade fish oils, checked for purity and contaminants, if your intake of oily fish is less than 3 portions a week.
2. Good Sleep
Optimise your sleep and take action if you suffer from sleep apnoea, as it is a sign of oxygen restriction that will directly impact brain health and cognition.
When we sleep, we are repairing and renewing cells throughout the body. During sleep, the brain is able to rid itself of toxicity that builds up in its lymphatic system (known in the brain as glymphatic). A lack of sleep will impair cognition and lead to a retention of toxicity. Do look at my blog and Podcast 9 about how to achieve a good night’s sleep.
Take care of your microbiome. We know there is a direct link between the gut and the brain through the enteric nervous system. It is still early days, but some studies are highlighting that those with Alzheimer’s have a reduced diversity of beneficial bacteria. We know it is essential to support a diverse and robust microbiome community by eating a wide-ranging and varied plant based diet (not vegan/vegetarian but plenty of vegetables, herbs and spices).
This is yet further support for a diet of “10 a day” AND 40 different plant foods every week. Also consider including fermented foods in your diet. Do look at my blog on my website (March 2023) about the best probiotic foods which includes fermented foods. My podcast 41 talks about the importance of gut health and the brain.
4. Movement, Exercise, Fresh Air every single day
Whilst a high intensity workout in a studio may suit some, it does not provide regular movement throughout the day, nor essential fresh air.
Moving regularly every hour helps to oxygenate the brain and helps to support glucose metabolism and blood sugar regulation. A constant, regular supply of glucose (not too high or low) is essential for a calm brain.
5. Low Sugar / Low Starch Diet
Choose a low sugar/low starch diet. Alzheimer’s has been called Type 3 diabetes by some. Insulin plays a critical role in the development of amyloid plaques in the brain. Just like insulin resistance can lead to Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance is considered to be a factor in the development of Alzheimer’s.
Keeping insulin levels stable (which occurs with stable blood glucose levels) is possible by changing your food choices. Keep starchy foods (like bread, pasta, potatoes, bananas) and sugary foods to an absolute minimum. This includes most fruits too.
6. Stress Control
Introduce calming stress relieving techniques into your day. Stress is considered to exacerbate the progression of the disease. Circulating high levels of cortisol is pro inflammatory and many people are living with high stress levels from our modern busy lives.
Introduce any form of stress relieving techniques that work for you and be sure to follow through every single day, especially when you know you are experiencing a higher stress threshold. This could be meditation, visualisation, gardening, yoga, Thai chi, walking, laughing with friends (or a good Sitcom would do), art and crafts, cooking, relaxing music. There are so many options, just pick what will achieve the calming effect for you.
These steps are the minimum you should take. Over and above these are important nutrients that support brain health and cognition. A blog for another day… 🙂
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