Why We Need to Focus on Alzheimer’s Prevention

Why We Need to Focus on Alzheimer’s Prevention

A stunning new report was just published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), revealing an incredible overusage of medications that are basically useless in nursing home residents with advanced dementia. 

The study looked at a sample of 5,406 nursing home residents and reviewed the various medications they were taking. Specifically, the study looked at medications that were deemed to be “never appropriate” in this patient population including various “Alzheimer’s drugs” as well as drugs designed to lower cholesterol, and several others. The report demonstrated that 53.9% of the patients were receiving at least one drug that fell into this category, meaning that they were receiving a medication that is basically useless in this population. 

Adverse effects of the so-called “Alzheimer’s drugs” include fainting, cardiac rhythm disturbances, urinary retention, and hip fractures, while adverse effects from statin cholesterol-lowering drugs in the elderly include muscle injury, memory loss, confusion, diabetes, and elevated blood sugar. 

The lead author of the study, Dr. Jennifer Tjia, stated:

Despite standards of care that call for minimizing interventions that are unnecessary or provide little benefit in order to focus on interventions that optimize quality of life, polypharmacy (using more than one medication) remains common in this population.

Further, in the conclusion of the report, the authors state:

Our findings have important implications because the use of prescription medications in patients with advanced illness presents a burden to the health care system and to patients. At an economic level, the use of questionably beneficial medications accounts for a significant proportion of the average resident’s annual medication expenditure.

Incredibly, more than 35% of the drug costs in these nursing home patients, amounting to $816 per resident per quarter, was attributed to these unnecessary medications.

Food is Information

Food is Information

Food is information.  What does that mean?  Well we look at our food in terms of the macronutrients of fat, protein, and carbohydrates and the micronutrients like minerals and vitamins.  But understand that the very foods that you choose to eat are changing the expression of your DNA.

Nutrition and Mental Health

Nutrition and Mental Health

Schizophrenia is a disabling brain disorder affecting over 1% of the American population. There does seem to be some significant genetic component to this disease in that people having a primary relative with the disease, like a parent or sibling, have a ten-fold risk for developing the affliction. 

In Grain Brain, I discussed the new research that relates gluten sensitivity to schizophrenia, as well as so many other brain disorders. As you are all aware, the fundamentals of the Grain Brain Lifestyle are centered on a dietary plan that is dramatically low in carbs, gluten-free, and high in healthy fats.

In this interesting case report and literature review, researchers at Duke University specifically validate this exact dietary approach in terms of actually having significant clinical benefit in the treatment of schizophrenia, leading to what the authors describe as “modulation of the disease at the cellular level.” 

In the day and age of drugs for every ailment, it is so validating to see our most well-respected medical institutions beginning to embrace the important role of nutrition in health and disease.

Reduce Inflammation to Protect Your Brain

Reduce Inflammation to Protect Your Brain

Everyone is familiar with inflammation. When a joint is inflamed with arthritis, it swells, gets red, becomes painful, and becomes less functional. Inflammation may also occur in areas that are less obvious such as in the coronary arteries. In fact, inflammation as a process is a cornerstone mechanism for the narrowing of the coronary arteries that typifies coronary artery disease. Inflammation is also a big player as relates to the disability that stems from diabetes, And there’s even a strong correlation between inflammation as a mechanism, and cancer.

The past several books that I have published have focused on the important role of inflammation as relates to the brain. Making the connection, for example, between inflammation and a disease like multiple sclerosis, it certainly something many people don’t have much of a problem understanding, since anti-inflammatory drugs are often used to treat this disorder. On the other hand, it seems a bit more of a stretch to connect the process of inflammation with such diseases as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. And yet, this process, inflammation, is a cornerstone mechanism related to progressive destruction that occurs in the brain as we age, as well as Alzheimer’s disease.

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To Lower Your Risk of Cancer, Look to Your Waist

To Lower Your Risk of Cancer, Look to Your Waist

By: Austin Perlmutter, Medical Student, Miller School of Medicine

Years of data now clearly demonstrate connections between obesity and increased risk for cancer. However, a new study published in the well-respected medical journal, The Lancet, is one of the first to examine this risk on a large scale. With over 5 million participants, the actual data is even more potent.

This study focused on development of 22 different types of cancers and the change in frequency of cancer diagnosis with obesity, measured by way of increased body mass index (BMI). Researchers started with over 5 million participants without a cancer diagnosis, then looked at the BMI in those who developed cancer. Ten of the types of cancers showed up significantly more in those with higher BMI’s, with leukemia and uterine cancer, gallbladder, kidney, cervical and thyroid cancers increasing in direct proportion to increases in BMI. Of note, 2 types of cancers (prostate and premenopausal breast) showed up less with increased BMI.  Continue reading

Grain Brain Cookbook Launches Today

Grain Brain Cookbook Launches Today

Years ago, if someone would have suggested that I would someday write a cookbook, I would have scoffed at the notion. After all, my training in neurology focused on identifying diseases and utilizing pharmaceutical interventions in hopes of improving a patient’s health.

In fact, in my early years of practicing neurology, this is pretty much what I did. Nevertheless, I always found myself to be a little bit out of step with my peers in terms of how we approached patient care. Ultimately, I became extremely frustrated by this somewhat myopic approach, focusing almost exclusively on treating symptoms, while the cause of various diseases we were trying to treat remained off-limits to discussion, and even exploration.

The brain remained the last bastion of the dogma that lifestyle issues don’t matter when it comes to health. Over the past several decades the idea of a “heart smart diet” became very mainstream. Women were told to eat calcium rich foods as a way to stave off osteoporosis. But until very recently, brain health and brain diseases were not included in the lifestyle conversation. Continue reading