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How to Address the silent epidemic of Dementia?

  • Dementia is not a normal part of aging

  • Every 4 seconds someone gets diagnosed with  dementia

  • Alzheimer's disease is the 6th leading cause of death.

  • 46+ million people are suffering from dementia

  • The number of people suffering from dementia will double in 20 years.

  • Caring for dementia patients is overwhelming for caregivers.

  • Dementia starts in the brain 30 to 50 years before symptoms appear.

The purpose of this blog is to draw attention to the silent epidemic of dementia as well as to create awareness about early diagnosis and an integrative approach to reversing and preventing dementia.

 

The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Diseases of the brain that result in dementia are termed as neurodegenerative diseases. These are diseases that progress over time and result in debilitating symptoms such as severe memory deficits, balance problems, abnormal movement of different parts of the body and significant decline in mental functioning. Individuals suffering from these diseases have a poor quality of life.

 

Neuroplasticity

 

Previously it was believed that brain development takes place during a critical period in early childhood and there is no change thereafter. This means that those who suffer from any kind of brain illness, trauma or injury leading to loss or damage of brain cells had no hope of recovery. Recent research has revealed a new phenomenon called Neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of human brain to change throughout our lifetime. Scientists have found that neurons have the ability to adjust their connections with other neurons in response to environment and stimuli such as injury or disease. In addition, there are certain regions of the brain where new neurons are produced. This important concept revolutionizes our approach to neurodegenerative diseases.

 

Harnessing the power of Neuroplasticity requires the involvement of BDNF (Brain derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF is one of the major mediators of Neuroplasticity. There are many different non-pharmacological interventions that can activate the BDNF.

 

Diagnosis

 

The key to dementia is early identification of the problem. There is a tendency to overlook memory loss, loss of concentraton, brain fog as part of aging, or attributing it to work over load or stress etc. The delay in diagnosis has important implications in terms of reversing the process of loss of function of brain cells or neurons. Conventional medicine does not offer many treatment options and the medications have serious and often unbearable side effects. The integrative approach focuses on addressing the reversible root causes leading to dementia. This approach not only arrests progression and improves symptoms but also improves the quality of health of these individuals.  

 

An Integrative Approach

 

An integrative approach to neurodegenerative diseases requires a better understanding of the root cause and creating a personalized strategy that addresses the root cause. The common feature of all types of dementia is the destruction of neurons- the brain cells. Neurons are specialized cells with specialized functions. The health and life of a neuron is affected by a number of factors such as

 

 

  • Diet, sleep, type and duration of exercise, stress resilience and mind-body balnce.

  • Genes such as MTHFR. Genes cannot be altered but research shows that we can change the expression of genes by removing potential triggers.

  • Availability of essential nutrients required for their functioning such as vitamin D

  • Degree of inflammation. Markers of inflammation include hs CRP, LpPLA2

  • Degree of oxidative Stress such as F2 Isoprostanes, Neopterin etc.

  • Environmental exposures such as fat soluble toxins including heavy metals

  • Chronic Infections such as Lyme’s disease

  • Mitochondrial Dysfunction. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of brain cells and inability of mitochondria to function significantly affects the ability of the neuron to function.

  • Hormones such as cortisol, thyroid, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone play an important role in optimal brain function.

 

Integrative approach assesses all of these factors and addresses the root causes to create a personalized approach for those at risk and those suffering from these diseases.

 

Conclusion

The dementia epidemic is on the rise and poses a challenge to our families and loved ones. The key to reversal of the diseases is early diagnosis and identification of the root causes. An integrative approach can provide a personalized, safe and effective approach for protecting and preserving our brain cells (Neurons). For more details about our upcoming workshop about dementia prevention, please click below