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  • Writer's pictureGary Moller

Healthy ways to Prevent Dementia

(Updated 12th July, 2024)

Introduction


Oiling a brain

Now that I'm in my 8th decade, I feel sufficiently qualified and experienced to comment on topics that have to do with health and longevity. This includes what it takes to have a nimble brain that's ageless. The rapid public decline of the President of the United States, Joe Biden, has shone the spotlight on age-related cognitive decline, which I'm discussing in this article.


Cognitive decline, or dementia, refers to the gradual worsening of memory, thinking, and problem-solving abilities, and physical abilities such as balance and coordination. This decline can make everyday tasks harder and affect a person's quality of life. While it is associated with ageing, there's no reason why a person shouldn't live to 110 years and still be mentally all there. The truth be known, the causes of dementia are medical drugs, poor diet, toxic exposures, past head injuries, a lack of exercise and mental stimulation, and a lack of purpose in life.


While there are many, the main drivers of dementia these days is the combination of long-term use of pharmaceutical medications, combined with nutrient-poor diets.


While no single food or diet, mental training, or exercise programme can guarantee the prevention of dementia, a balanced, multi-factorial approach can support overall brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Combining the following strategies, including being drugs-free, nutrient-dense food, and lifestyle factors like regular exercise, mental stimulation, and adequate sleep can further enhance brain health and longevity.


So, without further ado, let's get into it!



Be Medication-Free


Limiting the use of medications, particularly those that affect the central nervous system, can be beneficial for brain health. Some medications, especially in older adults, can contribute to cognitive decline and should be used cautiously and under medical supervision. Medications I've associated with accelerating cognitive decline include those for blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma, arthritis, pain, and inflammation, hormone therapy, and mood disorders.


For example, in the case of the President of the United States, the tipping point resulting in his rapid decline may be the COVID mRNA jab:

One concerning issue related to Biden's declining mental sharpness is that he strongly supported "the jab," a vaccination that South Korean researchers have associated with a higher likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment.


The Korean's analysis of people aged 65 and older revealed that those who were administered mRNA vaccines had a notably higher occurrence of cognitive decline within three months after vaccination in comparison to those who weren't vaccinated.


Is this a contributing factor to Biden's rapid decline in recent years? I think it is.




Be aware of "Tipping Points" in health


Tipping points in health are akin to a child leaning back on a chair — everything seems fine until they push just that bit too far and crash heavily to the ground. An elderly person might be managing well, both physically and cognitively, but certain factors can suddenly push them past their tipping point, leading to a significant decline that catches everyone by surprise. Common triggers include infections, falls, surgeries, car accidents, the loss of a loved one, or changes in medication.


Think about it: When you're tired and exhausted, or unwell with the flu, you can't think straight and are probably very grumpy. Well, just imagine any kind of variant, or event like this with an elderly person and there's their catastrophic tipping point.


These events can overwhelm the body and mind's ability to cope, transforming an apparently healthy state into a crisis, and further deterioration, including the rapid onset of dementia, to the shock and dismay of everyone.



Reduce toxic exposures


We all know that the child's brain is extremely sensitive to a wide range of chemicals and toxic elements such as mercury and lead. While it is not so obvious in mature adults, these toxins, which are ubiquitous in today's environment, are still harmful to their brains. Farmers and tradies who get their hands dirty working with chemicals, exhaust fumes, and treated timber, are at greatest risk in New Zealand. Other sources of toxic exposure include the fluoride in water, water off a roof, and arsenic found in some natural thermal hot pools. The best way to determine the presence of toxins, such as lead, mercury, and arsenic, often from decades ago, is to do a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA).



Eat Traditional Nutrient-Dense Foods


A diet rich in traditional, nutrient-dense foods provides the essential vitamins and minerals that support brain function. Emphasise whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fresh proteins, and fats from a variety of sources, including animal products. These foods supply antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and essential nutrients like omega-3 and a wide range of other essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, vitamins B6, B12, and folate, which are vital for cognitive health​​.


Ensure there's fat in your diet. The human brain is composed of approximately 60 percent fat. This high fat content is crucial for proper brain function, as fats are essential components of the brain's cell membranes and play a vital role in insulating nerve fibres and facilitating the transmission of signals between neurons​.

Free-range, grass-fed-sourced full cream milk, butter, eggs, olive oil, coconut oil, fatty fish, and the fat from grass-fed meat are excellent brain foods.


Fat-soluble vitamins, which include vitamins A, D, E, and K, are essential for various functions in the brain. They play crucial roles in maintaining cognitive function, protecting neurons, and supporting overall brain health. Vitamin A is vital for neurodevelopment and cognitive function. Vitamin D aids in neuroprotection and mood regulation. Vitamin E provides antioxidant protection and maintains membrane integrity. Vitamin K is involved in the synthesis of critical brain lipids and regulates brain calcium levels. Ensuring adequate intake of these vitamins is important for preventing cognitive decline and supporting long-term brain health. If your diet is low in fresh, unprocessed fats and oils from animal sources, then, by default, your diet will surely be low in the fat-soluble vitamins.


Salt your food with multi-mineral salt. Think of all those elderly people on severely salt-restricted diets. The consequences of salt-restriction are many and include poor digestion, fatigue, brain fog, and confusion, and infections including pneumonia. Salt is usually restricted to reduce blood pressure. However, fewer than 10 percent of hypertensives are due to excess salt. So, unless a person is diagnosed with salt-related hypertension, there are no upsides to restricting multi-mineral salt intake — there are only downsides.



Traumatic brain injury


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can contribute to dementia later in life by causing immediate damage to brain cells and initiating a cascade of events that result in long-term neurodegeneration. Additionally, TBI can trigger inflammation and oxidative stress, further damaging brain cells and increasing the risk of developing dementia. So, wear a helmet when doing risky things like riding a bike. Do everything you can to avoid blows to the head and keep strong and agile throughout life.



Do Daily Exercise That Challenge Balance and Coordination


Engaging in daily physical activity that challenges balance and coordination can enhance brain function and delay the onset of dementia. Exercises such as tai chi, yoga, and dance not only improve physical health but also stimulate the brain through complex movement patterns​​. Stand on one leg at a time several times each day.



Commune with Mother Nature


Spending time in nature can have profound effects on mental health and cognitive function. Nature walks, gardening, or simply enjoying a walk, or sitting in the park can reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance overall well-being, which are all important for maintaining cognitive health.



Do or Learn New Things Every Day


Keeping the brain active through continuous learning and new experiences can build cognitive reserves, which help protect against dementia. Activities like reading, puzzles, learning a new language or musical instrument, and engaging in hobbies stimulate different parts of the brain and promote neuroplasticity​​.



Don't get too comfortable


As we age, it becomes natural to fall into familiar routines and settle into a comfortable lifestyle. Although this isn't necessarily a negative thing, considering that we've worked hard to achieve what we have, it's important to remember that if we don't regularly push ourselves out of our comfort zones, we risk losing our physical and mental abilities. To prevent dementia, regularly push yourself out of your comfort zone to challenge your mind and body. This involves learning new skills, solving complex problems, and engaging in physical activities that test and, ultimately, extend your abilities. By consistently striving to be uncomfortable in these ways, while still enjoying the rewards of what you've earned, you stimulate your brain, enhance mental and physical strength, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. ​



Regular Habits, Including Sleep (Including a Siesta)


Maintaining regular habits, particularly in sleep, is crucial for brain health. Adequate sleep helps consolidate memories and clear out brain waste products. A regular sleep schedule and incorporating a short nap during the day (siesta) can improve overall cognitive function and prevent cognitive decline​​.



Seek and foster loving Relationships


Research tells us again and again that being a loner isn't good for your health. Strong, loving relationships provide emotional support and reduce stress, which can significantly impact brain health. Social connections and interactions help keep the mind engaged and provide a sense of belonging and purpose​​.



Engage with Your Community


Being active in the community, through volunteering, participating in social groups, or attending community events, keeps the brain engaged and provides opportunities for social interaction. This engagement helps maintain cognitive function and reduces the risk of dementia​​.



Having a Higher Cause Than Oneself


Having a purpose or a higher cause than oneself can significantly enhance mental well-being and cognitive health. This could be involvement in charitable activities, religious practices, or pursuing personal goals that contribute to a sense of meaning and fulfilment in life​.



Nutrients that contribute to brain resilience and neuroregeneration


You won't hear about this from your doctor, but there are several amazing nutrients that play crucial roles in having a brain that's resistant to injury and also for renewal (neuroregeneration). Yes, the brain can heal and, like any organ such as a muscle, it grows stronger with use. However, without the physical ingredients, fats, vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and more, this won't happen. These tissues aren't constructed out of thin air. All of the following nutrients can be purchased from our website here:


Here's just a few of the amazing nutrients for enhancing neurogeneration:


Also, there's ample evidence of the neuroprotective properties of some unique foods and nutrients. As a rule of thumb, ensure there's a little of one or more of the following (this isn't a complete list):

  • Astaxanthin (found in Algotene)

  • Coenzyme Q10

  • Turmeric

  • Brightly coloured vegetables - red, orange, yellow, and green - the deeper the colour, the better.

  • Deep coloured berries, especially NZ blackcurrant


Do your own research on the internet, looking at the studies for each of these super-nutrients. Use keyword terms with each of these nutrients, such as:

  1. Neuroregeneration

  2. Neuroinflammation

  3. Myelination

  4. Demyelination

  5. Neurotransmitters

  6. Dementia

  7. Alzheimers

  8. Parkinson's

  9. Multiple sclerosis

  10. Motor neurone disease

  11. Cognition

  12. Depression

  13. Anxiety

  14. Suicide ideation

  15. Pain

  16. Inflammation

  17. Heart failure

  18. Fatigue



Go a little hungry each day (intermittent fasting)


It's past midday, Sunday, as I finish this article and, other than a coffee with cream and coconut oil and a few supplements, I haven't eaten. I'm in a mild fasting state, which I'll break shortly with a low-carb meal. Then, an hour or so later, I'll be doing up to three hours of steady exercise, cycling over Wellington's hills and trails — Immersing myself in Nature, you could say.


Intermittent fasting enhances neuroregeneration by boosting stem cell activity and increasing growth hormone levels. Fasting triggers autophagy, a process where cells clean out damaged components, and elevates brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which supports neuron growth and brain plasticity. Additionally, fasting raises growth hormone levels, promoting cell growth and repair, and stimulating the proliferation of neural stem cells, especially in the hippocampus. These effects collectively create a beneficial environment for brain repair and cognitive function improvement​.


Ketosis, like fasting, enhances brain health by shifting the body's energy source from glucose to ketones. Achieving ketosis requires a low-carb diet to induce the body to produce ketones, which improve mitochondrial efficiency, reduces oxidative stress, and stimulates brain-derived neurotrophic factors, which support neuron growth and cognitive function. Both ketosis and fasting also promote autophagy, a process that cleans out damaged cells, protects against neurodegenerative diseases, and supports overall brain health​.


Be gentle on yourself!

I'm not one for hard-out fasting or ketosis. Instead, I feel the benefits can still be derived by taking a gentle approach, by entering a mild fast and ketosis for just a few hours most days, rather than attempting these for days on end. The extremes are too harsh, and most people eventually give up. The gentle approach is as easy as delaying breakfast, keeping carbs low, and exercising daily with a few long endurance sessions added in each week. A long morning walk over your local trails on an empty tummy will do the job.



Conclusion


Incorporating these strategies into daily life creates a comprehensive approach to maintaining brain health and reducing the risk of dementia. A lifestyle that includes nutrient-dense foods, regular exercise, continuous learning, social engagement, and emotional well-being forms a robust defence against cognitive decline, paving the way for a healthier, more vibrant life.

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