What an interesting coincidence: as I was collecting a variety of newsy articles that were of interest to me this month, I was struck by something they all have in common. Each article interested me because of the associated health condition. Although I am expanding and working intensively with patients with dementia, I also continue to have patients every month that are concerned about acne, heart disease and statins in particular!, autism, sugar consumption, irritable bowel syndrome and obesity.
Turns out that the particular insight about each condition ALSO relates to interventions I recommend to prevent or reverse dementia.
- If you have acne, sugar is probably poisoning your microbiome and your brain; antibiotics you take add harm to your microbiome and to the mitochondria (power houses) in your brain.
- If your cholesterol is high I’m not so concerned, but if a large proportion of it is “oxidized” or inflamed, that same inflammation is impairing optimal brain function.
- Acetaminophen is hard on the liver and brains of both newborns and aging adults, as are all mitochondrial toxins. When you address any discomfort with a lifestyle intervention and avoid so called pain relievers, you are protecting your brain.
- Eating extra sugar (most of us have done so or still do so) causes higher levels of insulin and thus insulin resistance. Even without the extra sugar, it’s true for all of us that as we age we tend to become more insulin resistant: our brains even more so.
- If your digestion isn’t functioning well, you have IBS and you are concerned you have leaky gut: you probably have a leaky blood-brain barrier and those same leaked toxins that make you feel bloated after a meal probably also give you a temporary case of “brain fog.”
- Just as your metabolism benefits from a daily “rest period” for your digestive tract, so too does your brain benefit. An overnight fast of 12+ hours lowers insulin which can in turn reverse insulin resistance, a huge favor to your brain. Your brain always has a greater degree of insulin resistance than what is measured in your body, a condition that distracts your brain from its normal housekeeping (clean up debris—amyloid—and replace old worn out cells with new ones) functions. (Remember that if your doctor hasn’t measured your insulin, you can make a pretty good guess of insulin resistance: if your waist is greater than half your height, you have some degree of resistance.)
Take good care of your body and you will be taking good care of your brain!