The number of Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease has continued to grow at a dramatic rate. Currently, it is estimated that some 5.8 million Americans (of all ages) have Alzheimer’s disease. By and large, this is a disease of elderly individuals, with approximately 5.6 million of those diagnosed age 65 or older. To put that number into context, consider that this means 1 in 10 people age 65 or older suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Further, it is instructive to note that there are some 200,000 individuals here in America under age 65 years who have also been given the diagnosis.
Despite heroic research efforts, Alzheimer’s remains a disease for which there is no cure or meaningful treatment whatsoever. That said, it is critical that we ask ourselves if there is any evidence that the disease could be prevented, or at least explore what could be done to lower one’s risk. Continue reading
If you’ve been following me for some time, you know that one area of brain health we talk about in relationship to Alzheimer’s, quite frequently, is neurogenesis. Otherwise known as the ability to grow new brain cells, neurogenesis is an incredibly powerful ability we retain as humans, especially as it relates to neurogenesis in the hippocampus.
So much has been written over the years extolling the health benefits of green tea. Green tea has been reported to be effective for weight loss, antioxidant effects, reducing risk of cancer, protecting the brain from Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, reducing risk of heart attack, and even for helping a person live longer. As it turns out, there is a fair amount of validation supporting many of these health claims. In fact, as it relates to living longer, one very extensive Japanese study involving 40,000+ adults over 11 years, shows that those individuals who drank 5 cups of green tea or more each day saw their risk of death reduced by 23%, for women, and 12%, for men.
As you might expect, I am especially interested in research related to brain health and functionality. As such, I was extremely interested in a recent publication that evaluated one component in green tea that shows high biological activity. The chemical, epigallocatechin-3-galate, better known as EGCG, has been long known as being one of green tea’s components most responsible for its reported health benefits Continue reading
By: The Dr. Perlmutter Team
As we’ve stated before, one of the most fascinating things about the human brain is that neuroplasticity, the process by which the brain undergoes changes in response to internal and external stimuli, affords us a great deal of control in determining the overall health of our brain. While there are many lifestyle changes one can make to improve overall brain health, studies have shown that dietary factors can have a significant impact. Choosing which foods you use to fuel your body goes far beyond counting calories; the macronutrients—fats, proteins, and carbohydrates—you emphasize in shaping your diet can have major repercussions for brain health. There is evidence to suggest that individuals who consume a diet high in carbohydrates have an 89% increased risk of developing dementia, while people who consume a diet high in healthy fats actually reduce their risk by 44%. Ensuring that the foods you consume are high in antioxidants, rich in healthy fats, low in carbohydrates, and powerfully anti-inflammatory can go a long way towards optimizing brain health and boosting memory and cognition.
Foods to Improve Brain Health and Memory
Generally speaking, we recommend a diet that is higher in fat and fiber, low in carbs, and rich in gut-healthy probiotics. To that end, please read on for some suggestions on specific foods around which to build a brain-boosting diet!
With all of the hype around fasting, you may believe it to be just another modern dietary fad, but the truth is that fasting is as old as our species. Until very recently, humans have always had periods of going without food. Fasting is baked into our evolution and our physiology and it can yield benefits to our brains and bodies, at a biochemical level, that we’re only just beginning to understand.
Many of us are blessed to live in a world with abundant food, but that wasn’t always the case. Throughout our evolutionary history, sometimes days, weeks, and months would pass during which food resources were scarce. These periods without food provided small hormetic stresses on our genome — meaning stresses that turn out to be beneficial to our bodies. In the absence of calories, life-sustaining, protective genes responsible for cellular repair and protection are activated, inflammation is reduced, and anti-oxidative defenses are increased.
This means that simply going without food for a while may have anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor benefits that are available to anyone, at any time.
By: The Dr. Perlmutter Team
What does it mean to have a healthy brain?
It means having a brain that is readily capable of performing all of its vital functions. This includes basic functions, like regulating the involuntary functions of the autonomic nervous system, and higher-level functions, such as facilitating cognition and decision-making, and coordinating fine and gross motor skills. While the brain is necessarily an incredibly complex organ, the process of neuroplasticity, which describes the brain’s ability to undergo physical and chemical changes in response to stimuli, affords us a significant degree of control over the health of our brain. In other words, the lifestyle choices we make today have a very real impact on our brain’s current and future health; whether that impact is positive or negative depends on how we live our lives.
As stated above, neuroplasticity can work for or against you. While the natural process of aging more or less handles the “working against you” side of that equation, it is completely within our abilities to harness the power of neuroplasticity to maintain or improve overall brain health. Taking an active role in improving the health of the brain can help fortify the body from some of the most debilitating chronic illnesses we face — the likes of Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis. Fortunately, science has shined a light on numerous factors that have the potential to mitigate the effects of aging and improve overall brain health. To that end, I wanted to highlight six of the most effective ways you can maximize your brain’s potential.