New Consciousness Review Winter 2016 - Page 21

HEALTH Despite the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease among older people, it is not necessarily a natural consequence of aging. The memory loss that characterizes Alzheimer’s disease is associated with a well known formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. Top researcher and California neurologist Dr. Dale Bredesen, director of UCLA’s Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, believes that an intensive program of hormone replacement, diet, proper sleep, key supplements, strategic fasting and stress reduction can reduce and even reverse Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Bredesen  has developed a program that functional medicine specialists, including Dr. Nunley, are using to look at a person’s genetics, nutrition and lifestyle and to create a plan for helping them to delay and even eliminate the chances of them developing Alzheimer’s. While scientists don’t yet know precisely what triggers damage to the nerve cells, they know that the changes that typify Alzheimer’s occur first in the cerebral cortex, which is the seat of learning. That’s why the first sign of the disease is usually the inability to remember newly learned information. As damage spreads to other parts of the brain, other symptoms appear and the disease becomes progressively more severe. “While risk factors for Alzheimer’s include those that cannot be changed - age, family history, and genetics - there is increasing evidence that there are factors that are under our control and things An exercise regimen should include aerobic exercise and strength training as well as balance exercises to reduce the risk of falls, particularly to guard against head trauma, which is a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias.   21 | New Consciousness Review While scientists don’t yet know precisely what triggers damage to the nerve cells, they know that the changes that typify Alzheimer’s occur first in the cerebral cortex, which is the seat of learning. we can do to mitigate risk or delay the onset of symptoms,” says Dr. Nunley. “We can modify our behavior and lead a ‘brain-healthy’ lifestyle that will help keep our brains healthier longer.” Dr. Nunley identifies important factors in maintaining brain and body fitness:  R egular exercise can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and slow its progression in those who have begun to develop symptoms. Exercise increases blood and oxygen flow to the brain and stimulates the brain to maintain existing network connections and develop new ones. An exercise regimen should include aerobic exercise and strength training as well as balance exercises to reduce the risk of falls, particularly to guard against head trauma, which is a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias.    A  healthy diet - high in vegetables, brightly colored fruits, healthy fats, and low in added sugar - can help maintain cognitive health. Some studies have found benefits in specific nutrients such as the omega-3 fatty acid in salmon and sardines; the anti-oxidants and vitamins in green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli; and substances that remove toxins from the brain, found in ginger, soy products, blueberries and other dark berries. Foods to avoid include soda and packaged, refined, and processed foods, especially those high in refined carbohydrates and sweeteners like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, which cause inflammation in the brain and elsewhere.