In this section you will find everything pertaining to the subject of brain health and preventing cognitive decline. Whether you are wondering how to prevent Alzheimer’s or what to eat when experiencing brain fog, this Brain Health section explores the connection between proper nutrition and brain preservation and development.
Category: Brain Health
While we accept the notion of the important influences of lifestyle choices as they relate, for example, to the heart, the immune system, lung function, longevity, and even cancer risk, the notion that what we choose to eat and the amount of exercise we get, in terms of influencing the brain, until recently, has been kept off the table. Fortunately, there are dedicated researchers around the country who are part of a vanguard team, making it very clear that we are, in fact, the architects of our brain’s future. Our choices, day in and day out, are exceedingly influential in terms of how our brains will change over time, for better or worse.
Certainly, this has been a central theme in the books I have been writing over the years, as well as other elements of my social outreach. But importantly, and gratefully, I am not alone in this endeavor.
There is so much we can do from a lifestyle perspective to help safeguard our brains against declining function. And certainly getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important choices a person can make to help preserve and protect this vital organ. In October 2020, I wrote a piece on the relationship between sleep duration and cognitive decline, and it was based on a very large study performed in England. This study demonstrated that there was risk for cognitive decline with not enough sleep as well as too much sleep. And it concluded that between 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night is the “sweet spot” in terms of being related to the least risk for cognitive decline.
This week, a new study published in the journal Nature Communications entitled “Association of sleep duration in middle and old age with incidence of dementia” reviewed data from close to 8,000 participants over a 25-year period of time. They demonstrated that there was higher risk for developing dementia with sleep duration of six hours or less at specific ages of 50, 60, and 70 years. The findings of the study showed the risk for actually developing dementia was increased by 30% in all three age categories. To be sure, these findings were independent of sociodemographic, behavioral, cardiometabolic, and mental health factors.
Interestingly, in contrast to the study I quoted last year, these researchers did not find strong evidence that longer sleep duration is associated with dementia risk. In fact, there were very few individuals in the study who actually experienced long sleep duration so this was difficult to evaluate. Continue reading
How does SARS-CoV-2 reach the brain? This is actually a critically important question for which we now have meaningful answers. In this podcast, I have the honor of interviewing Dr. Frank Heppner. His research uses electron microscopy to visualize intact coronavirus particles in the human brain. We now know that COVID-19 is not just a respiratory disease but can affect various other parts of the body including the gastrointestinal system as well as the nervous system. One in three individuals with COVID-19 does in fact have neurological symptoms and we are going to explore this in our time together today. Continue reading
How well we age is actually something we can control. We are learning more and more that there are correlations between our “aging,” in other words how long we remain healthy versus suffering from some form of chronic disease, and the length of the ends of our DNA called telomeres. Certainly, the idea of “lengthening your telomeres” is so much a part of the public discussion that products are using this as a catchphrase for marketing.
So I think it’s important to bring this whole notion of telomeres as markers of disease risk and perhaps more importantly as playing a mechanistic role in aging to a better level of understanding. Continue reading
Over the past several years a mechanistic concept has arisen that seeks to explain the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. This has been called the bioenergetic theory. Basically, it describes a situation in which the highly energy demanding cells of the brain are somehow compromised in their ability to use fuel. Make no mistake about it, brain cells require an incredible amount of energy to perform their function. In the resting state, the brain, which typically represents only 2 to 5% of total body weight, consumes up to 25% of calories burned.
The brain’s primary fuel is glucose. And one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive failure of the brain’s ability to use this source of fuel, basically a situation in which brain cells are not able to utilize glucose for energy. In fact, specialized PET scanning of the brain can visualize signature areas of the brain that are less functional in terms of glucose utilization that correlate with Alzheimer’s disease. Continue reading
Our world today has certainly become far more chaotic than we had anticipated. As such, it becomes challenging to avoid toxic threatening thoughts and downstream manifestations like depression or anxiety. As our guest today makes clear, we don’t have to settle into this mental mess as if it is just our “new normal.” There is hope and there is help available to us, and the road to healthier thoughts and more happiness may actually be shorter than we think. Continue reading
Your brain is always listening and responding to an incredibly large number of hidden influences, and unless you recognize and deal with them, they can steal your happiness, spoil your relationships, and sabotage your health. My good friend Dr. Daniel Amen calls these influences “dragons” in his new book Your Brain Is Always Listening, and with good reason as he explains. Importantly, this book will teach you to tame the dragons and regain what, for many, has been so elusive, especially these days. Continue reading
In 1998, Dr. Peter Eriksson published a groundbreaking report in the journal Nature Medicine in which he described, for the first time, that the process of growing new brain cells, neurogenesis, occurs in humans. That was only 22 years ago. Prior to his publication it was generally assumed that humans developed brain cells up until our late teen years and it was downhill after that.
We now know that a person retains the ability to grow new brain cells throughout his/her entire lifetime. Importantly, it is now clear that there are various things we can do that will directly enhance this process of neurogenesis. Among the most potent stimuli triggering the growth of new brain cells are physical exercise, a ketogenic diet, whole coffee fruit extract, and there is now some pretty compelling data supporting the role of a particular species of mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (more commonly known as lion’s mane), in causing neurogenesis. Continue reading
By the Dr. Perlmutter Team
When asked what supplements I recommend for optimal health, I occasionally reply, “sleep.” Sleep is powerful on so many levels in terms of health outcomes. We know that sleep duration and quality impact inflammation, what and how much we eat, hormone balance, decision-making, mood states, and much more.
An interesting study on sleep recently appeared in one of the publications of the American Medical Association called JAMA Network Open. The researchers behind the study sought to investigate the association between sleep duration and cognitive decline. They analyzed data from 20,065 total participants in two cohort studies, one in the United Kingdom, The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), and one in China, the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS). The ELSA sample included people 50 years or older and the CHARLS sample included people 45 years or older. Continue reading
These days so much is being written about the health benefits of lifestyle and nutrition strategies that produce ketosis. Indeed, actually treating certain conditions is now a fair-game discussion because of the robust scientific support being generated from institutions around the world.
I have previously presented information detailing the therapeutic benefit of a ketogenic lifestyle for issues like diabetes (both types 1 and 2), dementia, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. To be sure, there’s some outstanding work being done that demonstrates the effectiveness of a ketogenic program in Parkinson’s disease (PD). And one of the pioneers in studying the ketogenic diet in PD is Dr. Matthew Phillips, a neurologist in New Zealand who we’ve previously featured on The Empowering Neurologist. More recently, I had the opportunity to co-author, along with Dr. Phillips, a book chapter focused on the use of a ketogenic diet as an actual therapeutic intervention for Parkinson’s disease. Continue reading