This Journal is about brain health and references many factors which impact brain health in positive and negative ways. The reader can draw inferences from the facts presented here in order to create brain health supporting lifestyle changes. Please work your way through the information as you have time and curiosity to do so.
Brain health is highly malleable and can be influenced in a positive manner when negative conditions are in early phases of development. This is because of all of the factors which are known about that influence neuroplasticity. Some of these factors are presented in this writing.
I’ll reference Alzheimer’s disease as a focal central nervous system disorder in order to develop the important umbrella considerations regarding brain health. There are other central nervous system neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and vascular dementia, as well as a variety of lesser known disorders. In this writing, Alzheimer’s disease will serve as the model of study.
A number of important brain health nutrients from Designs for Health are referenced herein, such as Lithium Synergy, Carnosine Supreme, KreAlkalynPro, CogniAid, Brain Vitale, NeuroMag, and Resveratrol Supreme.
Designs for Health hosts a number of targeted brain health supplements, the complete listing of which can be seen on this page. I won’t comment on all of these, but the 7 formulations listed above are a very good starting point for consideration.
There is a list of helpful references and readings at the end of this writing which will be updated in the future as new articles appear which are about brain health. I anticipate that this reading list will become a rather long one over time, and so I hope that you will check back in from time to time to note the updates.
Many brain rejuvenative suggestions are here, and so I hope that you will persevere and not lapse in the reading if you should experience some fatigue in your effort to get through this information. The very exercise of reading this Journal should assist your own neuroplasticity, and if you pursue every link, as you may wish to do, then you will encounter even more opportunity to learn new things and stretch the flexibility of your neural workings.
And so, let’s begin…
The health of all organs is dependent on brain health. The health of the brain is dependent on all organs. The feedback loop between brain and all other organs is integral, and is very easy for any student of basic physiology and pathophysiology to understand.
The best way to have a healthy brain is to maintain the health of the body that it resides in.
Below are some statistics which relate to a significant brain disorder which we are all familiar with in one way or another…Alzheimer’s disease. The spectrum of brain disorders is large, and is as complicated as the organ itself. Alzheimer’s disease, now being so very common, is a brain disorder from which we may be able to learn the most.
The cost of caring for Alzheimer’s disease in 2015 was $226 billion in the United States alone. The cost on a global level was an estimated $605 billion, which is about 1% of the world’s gross domestic product. These dollar numbers are extraordinary, and almost unbelievable. The suffering, however, is much worse than the financial considerations.
In consideration of these costs, any brain nourishing chemistry and brain health practices will represent a good investment. Furthermore, in consideration of the skyrocketing costs of medical care, any proactive preventative steps we take to maintain good health and dodge the expense (and sometime perils) of the medical industry would also undoubtedly represent a good investment.
The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, and related dementia conditions, has risen sharply over the past few decades, such that 1 in 9 people over the age of 65 is now diagnosed with the disease, and it has become the 6th leading cause of death in America. The disease is most prevalent in Western Europe. America is second. The incidence in America is expected to rise markedly over the next several decades.
The annual rate of increase in lifespan in the United States for the past 50 years is 0.6 percent per year, and during that same period of time, the annual average increase in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is 2.6 percent per year.
You can read more about these sobering Alzheimer statistics here.
In addition to the important ingredients in the supplements mentioned above which are profiled in the writing below, there are many biochemical nutrient categories which are superior and are very important for brain health.
Here is an abbreviated listing of some of the more important generalized brain biochemical nutrient categories…
- key biomarker hormones
- omega 3 fatty acids
- anti-inflammatory agents…such as the 3 bioactive and stabilized curcuminoids
- methylating chemistry…primarily vitamin B6, B9 (folate) B12, and SAMe
- vitamin D…especially important if you have Vitamin D Receptor, or, VDR mutations
- all other vitamins play their special roles as well
- an array of amino acids, peptides, and other natural chemicals
- key minerals…magnesium, zinc, iodine, and lithium
All of these nutrients are very important for brain health individually, and in the synergistic aggregate, as well as being important for the overall health of all organs.
The Importance of Lithium in Brain Health
In consideration of just one of these brain nutrients, lithium, here is some helpful commentary.
Lithium is going to be relatively low in everyone who does not supplement with it or does not bathe regularly in geothermal pools which usually contain relatively high amounts of lithium which is absorbed through the skin. We can surmise, therefore, that lithium deficiency is ubiquitous. Indeed, this has been confirmed in epidemiologic studies, but this information is not widely appreciated.
Lithium is present in some foods, but only in low microgram amounts.
Lithium serves to increase brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which enhances new synaptic growth, neuroplasticity, and overall brain regeneration. It also serves well to reduce aggressive behavior.
Since Alzheimer’s has become so common, and since lithium is so ubiquitously low in our biochemistry, and since lithium is integral to the well being of the very brain chemistry which fails in Alzheimer’s disease…might we not consider its lack in our lives to be one significant factor in the generation and propagation of the Alzheimer process?
The common circulating misinformation about lithium toxicity is driven by the usage of a particular pharmaceutical which is a lithium carbonate salt whose blood levels must be monitored because of toxicities. Lithium carbonate is an earlier generational antidepressant drug used to treat bipolar disorder, and it is still in common usage today. It is also an industrial compound, most of which is sourced from China. This particular salt of lithium should stay in industry, and educational efforts need to come forward about healthier and safer ways for us to raise our lithium levels. Dosing ranges for this type of lithium salt are 150 mg. to 600 mg. per day. This kind of lithium dosing will create toxicity symptoms.
I have recommended the use of Lithium Synergy, a 5 mg. orotate salt of lithium, which is very safe, for many clients’ brain health over the years. I usually base this recommendation on genomic mutations which result in particular neurological enzyme function deficiencies. When certain brain enzyme activity is reduced because the genes coding for this enzyme are mutated, then a variety of imbalances ensue and brain regeneration and long term global function is handicapped.
One of the services I offer clients is helping them decode their genetic study results (such as 23andMe gene carrier status results), and implement a targeted, therapeutic supplement regimen unique to their important and relevant genetic mutations, and their specific individual lifestyle concerns.
Very common brain enzyme mutations I encounter in clients’ genetic profiles (almost every report) which call for lithium co-factor assistance are:
- BDNF…brain derived neurotrophic factor…a brain regenerative protein which decreases when mutated
- NTRK2…the molecular receptor for BDNF which results in BDNF’s effects of neuro-regeneration, but not so efficiently when mutated
- DAOA…a central nervous system enzyme which results in increased cognitive manic symptoms when mutated
- MTR…a methylating enzyme which moves the toxic amino acid homocysteine into the helpful amino acid methionine and assists with the recycling of vitamin B12
In combination with the other brain nutraceuticals profiled below, lithium becomes synergistically important. The usual dosage which I recommend is 5 mg. of lithium orotate (1 capsule) per day. I may recommend 10 mg. per day, depending on the number and the type of key mutations which may be present.
In addition to the first 3 references in the reading list at the end of this writing, another good resource for information on this vital brain nutrient is Chapter 13 (6 pages) of Dr. Amy Yasko’s (Ph.D.) book Feel Good Nutrigenomics. Here she covers the safety and importance of low dose lithium orotate. She also covers the subtle considerations of how one must consider the balance of lithium, vitamin B12, iodine, and potassium absorption, which are all important considerations, but ones that I will not attempt to explain here.
Lithium’s role in brain health has been well studied, and it is the subject of ongoing study. It has a vital role to play in our health, especially for those who have any of the risk factors for nervous system decline which are listed below. For more information on lithium, please see the first 3 references in the reading list at the end of this writing.
In those who have any of the first 3 common neurotransmitter mutations listed above, as well as a number of other important risk factors for dementia conditions, the use of the specific compounds profiled in this writing and lifestyle improvements becomes desirable and important.
Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Factors
Holistic practitioners accept a wider range of etiologic risk factors for dementia than do conventional physicians. Being a practitioner who offers lifestyle advice in the quaternary of body, mind, emotions, and spirit, I view all disease processes from what is probably a wider perspective than that which may be considered even by most holistic practitioners.
The following list of processes, which predispose to brain health problems, has been compiled from my own education and experience in dealing with central nervous system conditions. All of the points listed below have been referenced in both medical science and lay literature writings as being of possible contributory significance in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Since Alzheimer’s incidence is now very common and is increasing, all of the etiologic and predisposing brain health problems listed below should be considered. As you will see, a number of these problems interrelate. If a number of these issues are cumulative in any one person’s life, then the effect becomes more negatively synergistic…
- poor quality aging
- family history of a dementia process
- pharmaceutical polypharmacy regimens…has become a pandemic problem
- chemotherapy…this is underappreciated as a risk factor for nervous system decline
- hypothyroidism…diagnosed and poorly treated, misdiagnosed, or undiagnosed
- a variety of biomarker hormone imbalances, such as cortisol, DHEA, testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen
- diabetes mellitus
- any elevated blood sugar…has become very common and is under-treated by physicians
- use of artificial sweeteners (see Reference #33 at the end of the Journal)
- hypercholesterolemia, most especially small dense particle LDL disease
- hypocholesterolemia…cholesterol is needed for healthy cell membranes, and much more
- statin drug use (see Reference #31, and others, below)
- a variety of commonly used drugs such as PPI’s, antihistamines, and others
- antibiotic usage (see Reference #55 below)
- eating too much of the wrong kinds of fats, such as trans fats
- low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin K2, vitamin B12, folate, and other nutrients
- low levels of magnesium, zinc, lithium, and iodine
- elevated homocysteine
- other genetic mutations not mentioned above; e.g., APOE mutations and CETP mutations
- metabolic disorders such as mitochondrial dysfunction…perhaps the most important risk factor
- generalized inflammation, oxidative stress and overload, glycosylation concerns (see below)
- neuroinflammation…with mitochondrial dysfunction, is a root cause disorder
- various autoimmune disorders…which are caused by food choices and gut chemistry
- heavy metal (lead, cadmium, aluminum, mercury) toxicities
- dehydration, even of a mild sort
- fluoridated water exposure…see this informative website for more information
- exposure to any halogen chemicals…chlorine, bromine, fluorine, all of which interfere with iodine usage
- iodine deficiency…see reading reference #71
- neurotransmitter imbalances…dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, glutamate, GABA, serotonin, acetylcholine, and histamine
- brain trauma of any degree
- spinal injury
- stroke…cerebrovascular disease is the 3rd leading cause of death in America
- macro and micro vascular disease
- heart disease…leading cause of death in America
- poor heart electromagnetics…see reading reference #62 below
- cardiopulmonary bypass for open heart surgeries
- liver and kidney disorders
- poor food choices and intake of toxic food industry products, which I call “anti-foods”
- inappropriate and excessive grain consumption…contributes to gut and autoimmune disorders
- poor gut bacterial ecology…gut dysbiosis, and poor gut chemistry
- lack of exercise
- lack of exposure to sunlight
- use of a wide array of other toxic compounds and products; e.g., cosmeceuticals and household products
- environmental pollutants
- electromagnetic field effects…EMF effects..see 2 Journals on this…here, here, and reading reference # 82 below
- sleep disturbances of any sort
- stress of any sort which is unmitigated and overwhelming
- unresolved trauma and unresolved post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)…see reading reference #64 below
- emotional problems, particularly unresolved grief, fear, and anger dynamics
- depression and anxiety conditions
- lack of positive psycho-social dynamics
- lack of appreciation and enhancement of spiritual connection and faith based living
- lack of curiosity and wonder about one’s life process
- lack of contemplation and meditation in one’s life
- lack of connection to the natural world
- lack of use of one’s brain in creative, intellectual, or passionate motivator pursuits
- incorrect use of one’s brain…such as addictive negative thinking and obsessing
- unrelenting multitasking and brain fatigue
- any addictive pursuits, such as consumerism, and all of the other types of “__aholisms” whether they are chemical or psychological addictions
This comprehensive (and probably incomplete) listing of maladies, deficiencies, and toxicities affects everyone to one degree or another, and thus, everyone is at some risk for developing some degree of cognitive impairment and dementia. Furthermore, the statistics seem to support the fact that the risk is a pandemic concern. It is my impression that most of us have well over 50% of these negatively synergistic exposures. Any one or two exposures, per individual biology and psyche make-up, might be enough to account for the rising rate of dementia in western societies.
(The multifactorial nature of the genesis of Alzheimer’s disease is underscored in an excellent 35 minute interview of Dr. Dale Bredesen, M.D., conducted by holistic neurologist of renown, Dr. David Perlmutter, M.D., posted here on October 8, 2017. Here is this episode of The Empowering Neurologist, which I enthusiastically recommend.)
If you have read through this list and feel overwhelmed, you need to take heart and begin altering the negative risk factors and lifestyle concerns that you have as best as you can. You should begin doing this today. It will empower you. Find friends who can support you. Find an engaged patient advocate health care provider who you can trust to be there for you, who will guide you and coach you and support you. Much cognitive decline is reversible if people can learn to build their chemistry and lifestyle practices back to goodness.
Alzheimer’s disease and the other dementia processes are now in the growing catch basin of the generalized chronic degenerative diseases in our society which the conventional medical industry does not assist well; both at the academic level and at the community medical practice level. It is my impression that most physicians are just too checked out into their own stress and denial to be of any meaningful help.
Generalized hospital care for any condition has its own set of increasingly common risk concerns. The best of conventional medicine is in the emergency interventional offerings for life and limb saving procedures. Much of the now common conventional polypharmacy prescriptional push is just too toxic for anyone to handle well in their biochemistry.
Because the list of etiologic processes above is so long and so broad, and affects all organ systems, an entire lifestyle supplement regimen could (and should) be tailored around brain health alone, and that will serve the rest of our physical and biochemical health well enough.
Macro and Micro Brain Changes in Alzheimer’s Disease
The brain centers which are affected by Alzheimer’s disease include the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe, the parietal lobe, the occipital lobe, the cingulate gyrus, the basal ganglia, and every interconnecting neuron which allows these vital centers to generate cross communication. This is basically all of the brain. Each of these centers is responsible for processing all manner of our conscious and subconscious experience.
Aside from the consideration of these vital anatomical brain centers, there are many finer changes which are found deep in these tissues. Some current explanations for the initiation and progression of the disease include loss of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, the formation of tau protein, and the subsequent formation of beta amyloid tangles. The other name for beta amyloid tangles is beta amyloid plaque.
A helpful pictorial slide show demonstrating the macro and microscopic changes seen in Alzheimer’s disease can be seen here.
A description of the stages of Alzheimer’s disease can be viewed here.
While all of the conditions in the long list above are thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, I believe that the final common pathway in the disorder is an inflammatory/immunological process in the brain of someone who has an unhealthy and inflamed body. This inflammatory and immunological disorder cannot be separated from consideration of the state of mitochondrial health.
Another primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia processes is the role of reduced blood flow into all parts of the brain, such as happens in a sedentary lifestyle where the body is not used and exercised correctly.
Furthermore, as we advance past age 40 the brain does not utilize glucose as efficiently as in earlier years. The condition of insulin resistance develops in brain centers, and the usual fuel of brain cells, glucose, cannot enter the cells efficiently. This condition is now known as Type 3 Diabetes…the type that impacts the brain.
It has been shown that not all Alzheimer victims have beta amyloid plaque, and it has been shown from autopsies that people with beta amyloid plaque can die without having Alzheimer’s disease.
So…is the beta amyloid plaque just a side reaction in a brain trying to protect itself from an inflammatory immune system response? Medical research has been diverted from elucidating this possibility because its drug oriented research has been oriented to pursuing drugs to “treat and beat” beta amyloid plaque formation. These drugs have not proved to be effective in treating Alzheimer’s. This is not surprising because the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease is elsewhere in a multifactorial blend of problems.
This relevant article underscores these concerns and facts….Alzheimer’s Disease Amyloid Hypothesis Crumbling.
The Role of Acetylcholine
Acetylcholine is a cholenergic neurotransmitter which gives the brain speed, youthfulness, and memory. It declines in Alzheimer’s disease. A number of pharmaceuticals have been designed that interfere with the enzyme which breaks down acetylcholine, which is known as acetylcholinesterase. This category of drugs is known as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.
Because it is an acetylcholine receptor agonist, nicotine is frequently used by many people for its performance-enhancing effects on cognition, alertness and focus. Nicotine mimics acetylcholine, and those who are addicted to nicotine use in any form are usually already acetylcholine deficient. Furthermore, smoking is intensely damaging to macro and micro vasculature and it predisposes to Alzheimer’s disease.
Acetylcholine is made in the brain from its precursor elements acetyl-L-carnitine, glycero-phosphocholine, and phosphatidylserine. These are the valuable ingredients in the Brain Vitale compound which is profiled below. Except for acetyl-L-carnitine, which is found in meat, the other 2 compounds are not very easy to obtain from foods. However, phosphotidylserine is fairly abundant in egg yolks.
I recommend Brain Vitale to anyone who has some number and degree of the etiologic factors detailed in the long list above, particularly if one has associated neurotransmitter mutations such as the ones previously mentioned: BDNF, NTRK2, DAOA, and MTR. These are very common mutation events.
Furthermore, mutations in the GAD enzyme, which is also a very common family of mutations, will contribute to excess brain excitotoxicity and damage because the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate will not be properly transformed into its end product, which is the calming neurotransmitter GABA.
Glutamate can build up to higher than normal levels and accentuate excitotoxic neural chemistry via its agonistic (stimulating) effect on the NMDA receptor. Furthermore, because glutamate is not being transformed into GABA, the calming influence of GABA on the central nervous system will not be ambient in brain chemistry. The balance of glutamate and GABA as excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters is an important balance to maintain and support.
Glycosylation and the Role of Carnosine
The process of glycosylation, or, glycation, refers to enzymatic processes that attach carbohydrate entities known as glycans to proteins, lipids, and other molecules. While this is a normal part of our biochemical operations, abnormalities in the process can develop, especially in the face of excessive carbohydrate intake and blood sugar elevation, to create what are known as “advanced glycosylated end products,” or, AGES.
Over 40 disorders of glycosylation have been reported in humans. These disorders can be divided into several types of disorders of protein and lipid glycosylation, including phospho-serine glycosylation.
No effective treatment is known for any of these disorders, at least in current conventional neurobiological academia. 80% of these disorders affect the nervous system.
The body has no known method of repairing or removing these by-products of glycation, and so they accumulate and tattoo into our flesh, and assist in the formation of beta amyloid plaque. The pictorial slide show linked above is re-linked here to help your understanding and reading about beta amyloid.
However, there is a natural substance which strongly mitigates the formation of AGES, and that is a dipeptide protein acquired from meat known as carnosine.
The use of Carnosine Supreme as a nutritional supplement, especially for those who are vegan, vegetarian, and for those who have blood sugar elevation, is a prudent brain health recommendation in an era when both metabolic syndromes and dementia disorders are on the rise. Here is one example of many abstracts and research writings on the health benefits of carnosine.
The Carnosine Supreme supplement also includes benfotiamine, a derivative of vitamin B1 (thiamine), which also reduces glycosylation, or, AGES formation.
Vegans and vegetarians are more predisposed to lack of key brain nutrients which are found in meat…carnitine, carnosine, creatine, vitamin B12, and iron…than are meat eaters. However, because the entire quality of all foods on the planet is degrading due to agribusiness practices and toxicities, meat eaters should consider supplementing with these particular nutrients as well.
The Role of Creatine
Creatine is an organic acid made in our body and is very important for brain health. It has been well researched in its role of enhancing brain health in the face of a variety of brain disorders, including all of the dementia processes and central nervous system disorders, even though it is commonly associated with usage by athletes, and others, for muscle bulking.
There are many dozens of research articles on the role of creatine in brain health. Here is an example.
Creatine is relatively useless unless it is stabilized in an alkaline form with a high pH. I consider it to be an essential supplement for vegans and vegetarians who may have other risk factors in their lives for central nervous system problems. KreAlkalynPro is the supplement which fills this need.
Other Good Brain Health Supplements from Designs for Health
CogniAid is an herbal formula designed to help support healthy cognition, mood, and memory. This product supplies herbs and extracts that have been shown to work through a variety of mechanisms, including helping to maintain proper levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, as well as supporting healthy neurons and nerve impulse transmission.
CogniAid contains a wild-crafted blueberry complex, a novel berry extract that, in addition to blueberries, uses extracts of huckleberries and bilberries; all of which are noted for their antioxidant effect. This product also features vinpocetine, Huperzine A (a naturally occurring alkaloid compound), the green tea polyphenol EGCg, and the Ayurvedic herb Bacopa monnieri, which is a nootropic compound.
This formula contains cognitive and brain supportive nutrients which include glycerophosphocholine (GPC), acetyl L-carnitine, phosphatidylserine (PS), inositol, and Ginkgo biloba extract. Each of these nutrients has been extensively researched in relation to their roles in brain health and function.
GPC is a unique osmo-protectant, a clinically proven brain revitalizer, and raises choline-generating unique omega-3 phospholipids to build cell membranes. The three brain supernutrients GPC, acetyl L-carnitine, and phosphatidylserine (PS) in this formula are assisted by Ginkgo biloba extract, which also enhances brain cell protection.
Several studies indicate that synaptic connections in the brain hippocampus, a critical brain region for learning and memory, decline during the normal process of aging. NeuroMag, which uses the unique, patented, chelated mineral Magtein, contains magnesium that is chelated to threonic acid (magnesium L-threonate). It is superior to other forms of magnesium at getting through the blood brain barrier because it is able to transport magnesium ions across lipid membranes, including those of brain cells and mitochondria.
Elevating brain magnesium content via supplementation with Magtein may be a useful strategy to support cognitive abilities and decrease common age-related memory decline.
Resveratrol is a large polyphenol molecule which is a very powerful antioxidant and assists with blood vessel dilation. It comes from grapes, as are used to make red wine, and also from a variety of other berries, fruits, nuts, and dark chocolate.
One of the most dramatic aspects of resveratrol is its neuroprotective effects, even to the point of slowing the onset or progression of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Vascular dementia accounts for about 25% of all dementia cases and is caused by blocked or reduced cerebral blood flow that results in oxygen and nutrient deprivation.
One study showed that a single dose of resveratrol can improve blood flow to your brain and may enhance several aspects of brain function. The benefits include lowered inflammation and may extend to protection again depression and improved learning and memory skills.
Resveratrol activates the SIRT1 gene which codes for production of a protein which slows aging and the development of most degenerative diseases. The SIRT protein family works to assist mitochondrial efficiency and the production of the energy molecule ATP. Here is a technical summary of SIRT1’s function in brain health alone.
In the long bullet point listing of etiological factors which are involved in the initiation and propagation of Alzheimer’s disease I made reference to psycho-social dynamics, spiritual dynamics, and contact with the natural world, or lack thereof, as being important considerations for brain health, as well as for overall health.
Here is a nice and simple treatment of these particular dynamics from a writing which appeared in MindBodyGreen on October 29, 2013, entitled “13 Small Choices that can Change Your Life in Great Ways,” by Dr. Jon Lieff.
These are nice suggestions for a happy life and may help mitigate some of the brain fatigue which you may have felt from the perusal, real reading, and hyperlink pursuits of this rather brief overview of a complex subject. The points raised and links given in Dr. Lief’s article are excellent, and corroborate aspects of what I have tried to offer here.
For example, in point #1 in Dr. Lief’s article about the importance of sleep, he discusses the need for the brain to be able to repair and clear cellular debris during the sleep hours. The brain does not have an organized set of lymphatic channels to accomplish this like the rest of the body has. The brain relies on the flow of lymph fluid via the “glial lymphatics” which are also known as the “glymphatic system.”
For what it may be worth to the reader, I use Brain Vitale and CogniAid, along with methylating nutrients, on days when my neural capacity needs to be high…such as on days when I am translating clients’ gene mutation reports into manageable and helpful nutrigenomic information and suggestions, or on days when I am interpreting other complex biochemical information into practical recommendations.
I covered basic information about gene testing in the last Journal. Perhaps when you have some more time, and you have recovered from reading this one, you can read that one also.
Thank you for reading this one.
Signing off from Crestone and Beyond.
A Postscript Comment of Gratitude and Closing Notes on the Ketogenic Diet
I want to express my appreciation to my friend and colleague, holistic nutritionist Sarah Jane Sandy, for her assistance in reading this Journal entry and suggesting some helpful edits.
Sarah Jane recently compiled all of the research information for Dr. Mark Hyman’s new best selling book Eat Fat, Get Thin. Her valuable contributions, which deserve more recognition by the author, are briefly noted on page 341.
Dr. Hyman’s new book may be an important book for your consideration and your brain health. The importance of high quality and generous fat in your diet is very important for your brain health as well as your overall physical health. The old USDA food pyramid was killing us with all of the carbohydrate foods recommended at the base of this now-defunct food pyramid. We now understand that good fats are a better, cleaner, and more efficient fuel than carbohydrates. See Dr. Hyman’s book for more clarity on this important health information and practice.
The role of ketosis, or using a ketogenic diet to generate ketone bodies as a brain fuel is emerging as a very important therapeutic consideration to help supply the brain and body with an alternative and more efficient form of fuel…ketone bodies. This becomes especially important because of what is now called Type 3 Diabetes (brain cell insulin resistance) develops. In the condition of insulin resistance the cells of the body do not receive insulin messaging correctly, and the entry of glucose into the cell to be used as a fuel substrate is impeded. For brain cell insulin resistance the special new designation of Type 3 Diabetes holds forth.
A state of ketosis can be induced by fasting and by severely reducing carbohydrate consumption and eating a high fat diet. The body will break down fat cells to acquire ketones which have been definitively shown to be a superior form of energy in brain and heart function.
One can also supplement the diet with coconut oil and medium chain triglycerides (MCT) to help generate more ketones for brain health. In fact, I believe that the daily consumption of coconut oil is an essential adjunct to help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease.
A nice early resource text and story which validates the use of coconut oil to treat Alzheimer’s was published in 2011 by board certified neonatologist Mary T. Newport, M.D., who used coconut oil to cure her husband Steve of Alzheimer’s disease. Her book, Alzheimer’s Disease, What if There Was a Cure? has now been translated into several languages.
The ketogenic diet has been used for almost 90 years when it was first used to help children and adults with epilepsy. There are now many books available on this vital subject. I have covered aspects of the ketogenic diet in my earlier Journal posting Minding Your Mitochondria, which was posted in May, 2014.
Some Helpful References…This list will be expanded in an ongoing fashion as new and helpful articles appear. Because dementia conditions are becoming more and more common and because these conditions pose such challenge and difficulty, I shall give due attention to expanding this list of references over time. Please revisit this reading list from time to time for links to new articles.
- Lithium’s Role in Brain Health
- Lithium’s Billion Year Journey: A Cinderella Story for Brain Health…a very good article on lithium’s history, chemistry and benefits.
- Nutritional Lithium: Orchestrating Our Genes & Optimizing Our Moods…how lithium works at the genetic level to increase BDNF.
- Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being
- Top Environmental Risk Factors for Dementia Identified
- What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Exercising
- Exercise & Brain Aging
- CoQ10–A Nutritional Powerhouse for Mitochondrial Health
- The Insulin/Dopamine Connection
- Increasing glutathione levels may provide protective measures against age-related decline
- New study demonstrates omega-3 fatty acids promote clearance of of beta-amyloid peptides
- Prescription for Laughter
- New study demonstrates that lutein and zeazanthin help increase brain function
- Alzheimer’s–Looking at the Other Side of the Picture
- Tyrosine–An Amino Acid Worth Exploring
- New study demonstrates mentally stimulating activities protect against cognitive impairment
- Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts
- The Subtle Early Signals of Dementia in Someone You Love
- Identifying the Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Prolonged sleep duration as a marker of early neuro-degeneration predicting incident dementia.
- How B Vitamins Improve Brain Health, Cognition, Psychiatric Problems and Mood Disorders
- Photobiomodulation: The Role of Light in Preventing and Potentially Halting Alzheimer’s Disease
- New study demonstrates blueberry supplementation helps improve brain function
- A Ray of Hope Amid Grim Statistics for Alzheimer’s Disease
- How to Boost Brain Performance and Prevent Dementia Using No- or Low-Cost Strategies
- B Vitamins May Protect Against Damaging Effects of Air Pollution, and Improve Cognition and Psychiatric Health
- Memory Loss or Dementia?
- New study demonstrates enhanced cognition and cerebrovascular function with resveratrol
- Insulin Resistance Speeds Up Cognitive Decline
- Ashwaganda for Cognitive Function…a superior adaptogenic herb, best when used in a synergistic formulation
- The Alzheimer’s Antidote: Using a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet to Fight Alzheimer’s Disease, Memory Loss, and Cognitive Decline…by nutritionist Amy Berger, who is interviewed in reference #30 below. This book outlines a comprehensive metabolic and lifestyle approach to use in treating the metabolic process known as Alzheimer’s disease.
- The Empowering Neurologist…well known and respected holistic neurologist David Perlmutter, M.D., interviews nutritionist Amy Berger.
- Statin Drugs: Worse Than We Thought?…Ubiquitous statin usage, now prevalent in our culture, is to be condemned. I believe this class of drugs should be eliminated. Doctors and patients must learn how to do better than using such toxic chemicals in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Furthermore, cholesterol is a vital molecule for brain health. The brain is over 60% fat. A couple of writings on this website about the cholesterol myth are referenced next…
- The New Cholesterol Guidelines…Beware and Independence Day from Cholesterol Misinformation
- Artificial Sweeteners…Cause of Alzheimer’s and Stroke?…well known neurologist David Perlmutter briefs us on the recent study which overwhelmingly condemns the ubiquitous use of artificial sweeteners.
- Tai Chi Can Reduce Risk for Fall for Elderly…body command and balance are good for the brain.
- 9 Ways to Protect Yourself from Cell Phone Radiation…everyone who carries and uses a cell phone should take note.
- Cannabis May Rejuvenate the Aging Brain and Ward off Dementia…evidence for the health promoting benefits of cannabis continues to accumulate.
- Biomarkers, ketone bodies, and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease…in this important abstract the mitochondrial health and the use of ketogenic biochemistry is promoted.
- Promising research from UCLA’s Dr. Dale Bredesen, M.D….a 56 minute presentation exploring the facts that Alzheimer’s is a reversible metabolic/systemic disorder when recognized and treated in the early stages of cognitive impairment….posted here on May 26, 2017.
- New study demonstrates omega-3 fatty acids increase blood flow to regions of the brain associated with cognition
- Neurologist David Perlmutter, M.D. interviews researcher Dominic D’Agostino, Ph.D., on the science of the ketogenic diet…Domonic D’Agostino is a we;ll recognized expert on ketogenic science. David Perlmutter is an equally well recognized holistic neurologist.
- How Music Helps Unlock Memories and Improve Quality of Life for Dementia Patients…using the power of musicophilia to reacquire neuronal connections and memories. Watch the short Featurette video at the top of the article.
- Probiotics: A New Treatment for Alzheimer’s?…results from a randomized double blind controlled trial reported in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, November, 2016, explained by David Perlmutter, M.D.
- Ketosis & Parkinson’s Disease: Improving Symptoms with a Ketogenic Diet…Dr. Perlmutter explains a small study presented in the journal Neurology which showed improvement of Parkinson’s disease symptoms when patients were placed on a ketogenic diet.
- The Dangers of Acid-Blocking Drugs…Dr. Perlmutter shows us 2 recent important studies about PPI drugs which contribute to heart attacks, mortality from heart attacks, and dementia.
- Movement to Remove Fluoride From US Water Supplies Continues…Fluoride is a known neurotoxin and mitochondrial toxin. Water fluoridation in the USA is now nearly ubiquitous. This halogen chemical interferes which iodine uptake by the organs which are dependent on iodine for health and healthy function, namely: brain, thyroid, thymus, salivary glands, stomach, pancreas, ovaries, breasts, and skin.
- Short Film Reveals the Lunacy of Water Fluoridation
- Fluoride: Poison on Tap…more history and condemning information about fluoride.
- Alzheimer’s Deaths Exceed Half a Million a Year in the US…a good summary article from June 15, 2017, from the Mercola website.
- How to Recover From Burnout By Rebalancing Your Life…a neurosurgeon addresses his own burnout and subsequent recovery of the 4 pillars of his life: physical life, spiritual life, work life, and relationship life. He embraces the ketogenic diet and sets off on a course to help those with chronic traumatic encephalopathy with what he has learned.
- New study explores the association between sleep disturbance and cognitive decline
- Diet Drinks Threaten the Brain
- Exercise…The Magic Bullet for Your Brain…exercise increases BDNF which restores the brain.
- Can Lion’s Mane Decelerate Alzheimer’s Disease Progression?…a botanical with interesting properties is discussed.
- Trauma and the Gut, Adverse Events affect the Gut-Brain Axis…a very important announcement from neurologist David Perlmutter, M.D. about a recent study published in Microbiome in May, 2017, from a UCLA research group headed by gastroenterologist and neuroscientist Emeran Mayer, M.D., who is author of the new book The Mind-Gut Connection.
- Tetrahydrocurcumin mitigates mitochondrial dysfunction and brain cell death associated with hyperhomocysteinemia…one benefit of using curcumin.
- Minding your Mitochondria…a writing on this website which details how to support and enhance mitochondrial health. Mitochondrial chemistry is the central foundational key cellular process of good health.
- Antibiotics and Mitochondria–You Need to Know This…Dr. David Perlmutter explains new evidence (8-15-2017) that common classes of antibiotics damage mitochondria and induce more reactive oxygen species and oxidative damage. The use of oral N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) as an antioxidant mitigates this damage.
- The Harmful Effects of Electromagnetic Fields Explained
- The Strange Connection Between Vision Loss and Alzheimer’s…features UCLA brain researcher Dale Bredesen, M.D.
- The Steep Cost of Sleep Deprivation…sleep disturbance is a risk factor for dementia.
- There are 4 writings on this website about how the heart functions outside of its role of pumping blood. These considerations are very important for brain health, and the most important considerations for living a happy and healthy life that I know of. There are many many people who live happy and healthy lives in our world who would never need to read such writings. They are the living examples of a glowing heart…1) The Pulse of Life, 2) The Spiral of Life, 3) The Prayer of Life, and 4) The Beginning of Life.
- Adverse Childhood Events…a writing on this website about the effects which ACEs have on our long term health. This is a very important factor in functional and biochemical brain health.
- Alcohol and Your Brain…neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, M.D., explains the recent article in the British Medical Journal which cites the neurotoxicity issues associated with consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol, posted here on 9-24-2017.
- How Dehydration Affects Your Brain Function…a nice and helpful article from the Mercola website about water’s role in our lives and how to maintain its healthy levels.
- Powerful Study Shows: High Fat Diet Is Best…posted here on 9-29-2017. A very large global multi-institutional study explained by Dr. Perlmutter.
- Ketogenic Diet Study Confirms Massive Anti-Inflammatory Effects…the ketogenic diet lowers brain inflammation and is helpful for a variety of chronic disease conditions, posted here on 10-9-17.
- Digital Dementia…an important article about a growing toxicity. Note the comment about doctors and nurses spending more time looking at digital devices than interacting with patients.
- Study Proves Sugar is Responsible for Remarkable Rate of Disease…an excellent discourse on sugar, which is a main contributing factor in the genesis of all chronic diseases, including diseases of the central nervous system.
- How Iodine Deficiency Increases Your Risk for Chronic Illness…important considerations about the halogen element iodine which is an essential mineral for brain health.
- Histamine Contributes to Alzheimer’s…histamine is also a neurotransmitter with excitatory effects. When present in high amounts in the body it causes more problems for us than just problems in the central nervous system.
- New review demonstrates acetyl L-carnitine significantly decreases depressive symptoms…acetyl L-carnitine and carnitine are vital health nutrients which are missing in vegan and vegetarian diets, and should be supplemented. The acetylated form of carnitine crosses the blood brain barrier and is essential for brain health and brain mitochondrial function.
- New study demonstrates lutein and zeaxanthin help improve cognitive function in healthy young adults…a nice brief synopsis of the value of 2 well known carotenoid phytochemicals which help not only aging eyes, but also young brain function.
- Dr. David Perlmutter interviews holistic opthalmologist Sam Berne about eye health. This 25 minute interview is excellent, and it reinforces the fact that the eyes are direct extensions of our brains.
- Does Antacid Use Increase Risk for Dementia?…some research on the subject says “yes.”
- Resveratrol helps improve cognitive function by enhancing cerebral blood flow, according to a new review…resveratrol is a highly valuable supplement to use for general anti-oxidation, diabetes, and preventing dementia.
- How Metabolic Therapies Prevent and Treat Chronic Diseases…another nice article on the value of the ketogenic diet in the treatment of degenerative brain disease and cancer, both of which are metabolic diseases on the same spectrum of all degenerative diseases.
- How Metabolic Therapies Prevent and Treat Chronic Diseases…another nice article on the value of the ketogenic diet in the treatment of degenerative brain disease and cancer, both of which are metabolic diseases on the same spectrum of all degenerative diseases.
- Is Cognitive Training the Answer for Dementia?…a December 7, 2017 posting on the Mercola website which reviews the data on using cognitive training to help dementia. This writing has a nice summary of a variety of dementia considerations and also features a recent interview with Dr. Dale Bredesen.
- Ketones–Understanding These Precious Molecules…an excellent brief summation of ketones which includes a very good exogenous ketone supplement…Keto-Nootropic, from Designs for Health.
- Reduce EMF Exposure…a very important article from the Mercola website, dated 1-8-2018, covering the many problems with EMF exposures and feature a one hour interview with Dr. Martin Pall, Ph.D., who is one of the leading researchers in this field. I encourage you to immerse yourself in this particular article and interview and learn more about this pervasive and pernicious problem.
- 25 Most Dangerous Drugs…this is from mainstream MSN.
- Get Proper Sleep Nightly…important updated information (1-18-18) about sleep which covers the negative effects of electromagnetic fields on our sleep.
- Recent research suggests that repeated hits, not concussions are to blame for CTE…the editor for a website devoted to the football program at the University of Alabama posts a nice summary article which has a look at some important new research findings about the pathogenesis of CTE.