April 24, 2017

Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia are on the rise statistically because of an aging American population. However, recent data has shown that improved cardiovascular control and education are causing the age specific disease prevalence to level off.

Early cognitive decline identification and control of risk factors is the current best solution for disease reduction and control. Review this PDF for information regarding current accepted guidelines for the diagnosis of dementia. To understand the risk factors for disease and then apply the lifestyle changes in children is the ideal way to slow the onslaught of disease in western cultures. Currently, pharmacotherapeutic medicines have been an abysmal failure with not one medicine functionally halting disease progression.

We now have two strong studies analyzing the effects of a comprehensive lifestyle approach to treating Alzheimer's cognitive decline in humans. The FINGER study and Dr. Dale Bredesen's study from UCLA have given us a ray of hope for disease reversal or better yet, prevention. I am writing about these two studies in the hope that they are a primer on what to do in order to prevent neurologic degeneration in all humans from birth to adulthood. I also hope that maybe we can affect other neurocognitive issues in children as I personally believe that this is all tied together!

Let us look at the FINGER study first (Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability). The study split 1260 adults into two matched groups where one group received intensive lifestyle interventions including, nutrition education, exercise training, cognitive training and metabolic monitoring while the control group received only regular health advice.

The recommended diet included: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, canola oil, fish with the avoidance of refined sugar, alcohol and trans fats. Exercise programs included muscle strength training, balance work and cardiometabolic aerobic work. Cognitive training was computer based and focused on executive function, memory and processing speed.

The study noted a 25% improvement in cognitive function in the intervention group after 2 years. The really fascinating part of the study was an assessment of aging by testing telomere (DNA cap tail) length. The longer the DNA tail is, the younger you are at the cellular level. Those in the intervention group had significant reductions in telomere shortening especially in the high risk ApoE e4 genotype group. Humans that carry both copies of this gene have a 10 fold increased risk of Alzheimer's dementia.

Looking at study number 2 by Dr. Dale Bredesen, we see 10 adult patients with active dementia being placed on a intensive protocol with nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, cognitive and micronutrient/genomic optimization. At 2 years, 9 of the 10 patients showed significant improvement with the lone non responder being a patient with end stage disease. If you look at the study table one in the results section, you can see the protocol in its open source format. The protocol is highly specialized to target many biochemical pathways known to be critical for neurologic function.

What these two studies do is to begin to cement the reality that cognitive decline is related to the lifestyle choices that we make. If we can repeat Dr. Bredesen's outcomes in a larger study population, then we can change the face of medical management for neurobehavioral disease and alter human mental decline forever.

I am convinced that these same principles apply to children with neurobehavioral disorders. Not only can we now slow cognitive decline in the aging population, but I am sure that we will begin to shift the needle on the childhood diseases of the brain by following similar protocols.

I highly encourage each reader to really sink your teeth into these articles as it may change your life and that of your child. These lifestyle interventions will lengthen your telomeres which in turn will decrease the senility of your cells. The end result is aging more slowly and with less disease. I am already signed up. What about you?

Prevent cognitive decline and live strong and with your full mind until you die naturally,

Dr. M

Scientific American Article
Lancet FINGER study
Dementia PDF