An excerpt from interviews with several experts:
Dr. Michael Merzenich
Alzheimer’s is not a disease. It’s the end stage of a decade’s long negative progression that ultimately results in a catastrophe. You should be thinking about how to stop the decade’s long progression from ever happening, or at least delay it for probably indefinitely in most people. When you do that, the changes that you drive in the brain will lead to substantial increases in longevity.
Dr. Dale Bredesen
Doctors have been quite good about telling people that standard therapies are not terribly effective; that you’ll get a small improvement, and they will not affect the decline. But that tells people things are hopeless. Unfortunately then, people think there’s not a lot to be done, so they will wait as long
as possible instead of coming in as early as possible for prevention or reversal.
Dr. Daniel Amen
If you’re blessed to live until you’re 85 or older, you have a one in two chance of having lost your mind. We need to be serious about brain health, whether we’re young, in the middle, or old because it affects everyone.
Dr. Larry Mamaya
Brain scans help because how do you know how to treat an issue unless you look? The type of study we look at is called SPECT. It’s a functional brain imaging tool that’s based on brain blood flow. On a healthy scan, we should see a smooth top surface, smooth underside, smooth, symmetrical on the side views. No holes or dents anywhere, which actually indicates compromised blood flow and brain shrinkage. Those areas have certain functions, and those functions get compromised, depending on where you see the location of those compromised areas. The scan can also show areas of increased activity, and based on how the brain is functioning, that allows you to go in the right direction of treatment.
You can change your brain. You can do a very thorough, proper evaluation doing careful assessments of what might be the best treatment for someone, and people can get better.
Dr. Daniel Amen
Brain health is super simple. You have to care about it, avoid things that hurt it, and do things that help it. To keep your brain healthy or rescue it, you have to prevent or treat the 11 major risk factors, which we call Bright Minds.
The B stands for blood flow. Low blood flow is the number one brain predictor. Anything that damages your blood vessels damages your brain. If you have blood flow problems anywhere in the body, it means it’s everywhere.
R stands for Retirement and aging. When you stop learning, your brain starts dying, and the older you get, the more serious you need to be because age is stealing your reserves. New learning needs to be part of every day of your life.
I stands for Inflammation. When you have chronic inflammation in your body, it’s like you have a low level fire that’s destroying your organs. Inflammation is associated with both depression and dementia.
G is Genetics. People think there’s nothing they can do about it, but that’s the wrong way to think. If you have Alzheimer’s in your family, you need to be serious about brain health as soon as possible.
H is Head Trauma. Helmets don’t protect you against brain damage. They protect you against skull fractures, but your brain floats in water. So if you get a big hit, it vibrates, which tears blood vessels, damages neurons, and bruises the brain. So protect your brain, or you’ll be rehabilitating it.
T is Toxins. They are everywhere. When I first started imaging people, I could clearly see alcohol is not a health food. It decreases overall blood flow in your brain. The scans taught us about all sorts of other toxins like heavy metal exposure. Lead and mercury are clearly neurotoxins. Mold is so damaging to brain function. You have to prevent, limit, or decrease exposure.
M is Mental health issues. Depression doubles the risk of Alzheimer’s in women, quadruples the risk in men. Post-traumatic stress disorder, being under chronic stress shrinks a part of your brain called the hippocampus. You don’t have to take medicine. Kill the ANTs—the automatic negative thoughts that steal your happiness—and exercise. Exercise is one of the best things that you can do for mental health.
The second I is Immunity and Infections. You want to boost your immunity, and your gut has a lot of your immune tissue so having a healthy gut is really important, along with vitamin D.
N stands for Neuro hormone deficiencies. Low thyroid and low testosterone go with low function of your brain. When testosterone is low, your libido’s low, and strength, motivation, mood, and memory are low. To optimize testosterone, kill the sugar and start lifting weights.
D is diabesity, which is a combination of having high blood sugar and/or you’re overweight or obese. As your weight goes up, the actual physical size and function of your brain goes down. Diet is so important.
S is sleep. Sleep apnea triples the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, so if you have sleep apnea, get it treated.
Dr. Ben Johnson
Alzheimer’s is preventable, and it is even reversible up through stage four, maybe stage five. We can hold the line probably at stage six. If you’re stage seven, there’s not much we can do.
Dr. Dale Bredesen
We want to do everything possible to make people better. It’s like a concert. What’s the one instrument that makes the orchestra? There isn’t just one instrument. You’ve got to put the whole thing together to make it work, and the results we’ve seen have been unprecedented. People improve in their MoCA scores, go back to work, increase their hippocampal volume, and spouses say, “I have my spouse back.” It’s absolutely striking.
It typically takes three to six months before you see really striking differences, but keep at it, and include
the diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, and the rest of the program, and don’t stop. If you’re not improving, then you’re missing something in your evaluation and/or treatment.