This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Rodney Soto, M.D. who is a board-certified doctor in Neurology and Holistic Medicine by the American Board of Holistic and Integrative Medicine.
- Declining brain health is not a normal part of aging and there is a difference between normal forgetfulness and true cognitive impairment1
- Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) may be the first and second steps in the progression of dementia-related diseases
- Cognitive decline can inhibit a person’s quality of life and sense of independence
- Recognition and early intervention is key to maintaining a healthy brain and preventing or reversing cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases
- Conventional medicine offers few options for prevention and treatment and those that are offered may include unwanted side effects
- There are alternative and natural approaches to improving and maintaining brain health
Brain Dysfunction is not a Part of Healthy Aging
As we age, many of us are concerned about our memory and the health of our brain and cognitive function. It’s disconcerting to forget or lose things from time to time.
Almost everyone knows of somebody who has experienced some form of cognitive decline and cringed at the thought of such a future for ourselves. Who doesn’t fear one day not recognizing a loved one or not being in possession of our mental faculties and losing our autonomy?
The reality is that over 50 million people in the U.S. have some form of dementia.2 Dementia is not a specific disease but is a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that have to do with everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.
We should not accept cognitive decline as our destiny. This kind of limited thinking prevents us from taking action now when we can actually do something about it.
What Is Optimal Brain Health?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), optimal brain health can be defined as an optimal capacity to function adaptively in the environment and that would include being competent in the areas of thinking, moving, and feeling.3
Our brains reach maturity in our 20s. At this time complex reasoning and long-term memory functions begin to peak, and creativity may be at its highest. At about 30 years of age, our brain cells (neurons) begin to shrink, but although we’re no longer at our peak, cognitive health can remain strong.4
Optimum brain health includes the ability to:
- Pay attention, perceive, and recognize sensory input
- Learn and remember
- Solve problems and make decisions
- Have mobility
- Regulate our emotions.3
When Brain Function Begins to Decline
We shouldn’t get too worried about minor lapses in memory, such as forgetting where you placed your keys or the name of the person you just met as long as it’s not becoming increasingly worse or more common.6
If it does, it may be time to take action early, before things progress further.
The problem may begin when the body is fighting or coping with multiple sub-clinical issues that are not fully detectable or looked for in routine testing. These issues left untreated create a cascade of inflammatory and disease-related processes in the body, which can produce symptoms commonly associated with dementia-related diseases.
Conventional Medicine and doctors focus only on these causes:
- Medical conditions such as head injury, tumors, blood clots or brain infections
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Emotional problems
- Mental health issues such as anxiety or depression
- Side effects of some medications
While these are valid, there are many other factors that should be looked into and treated when confirmed.
Symptoms of Declining Brain Health
The beginning stages of brain health impairment are called Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Symptoms of these phases of mental health decline are similar although they may happen more frequently and be more pronounced with MCI.
Common symptoms of declining brain health may include:
- Becoming confused about where you are and why you are there, especially in familiar surroundings
- Difficulty performing routine tasks that you otherwise were able to do such as preparing a meal or following a recipe
- Forgetting things more often such as appointments and events, or where you put your things
- Mixing up appointment times and days
- Repeating a task you already completed
- Not remembering if you took a supplement or medicine
- Repeating a story or sentence or forgetting where you were in a story
- Difficulty finding words to describe something or say what you want to say
- Difficulty understanding directions or an explanation
- Forgetting how to get to places you typically can get to without difficulty or directions
- Feeling overwhelmed when planning or making decisions
Other symptoms that may be linked to declining brain health include:
Note that mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety can also lead to symptoms similar to declining brain health.
Lifestyle Changes to Improve Brain Health
Early Intervention is Important
In order to maintain a healthy brain and reduce your chances of cognitive decline, you should start taking preventive measures now before brain health declines. There are many changes you can make now to start improving your brain health.
If you feel you need some additional help and professional support, we offer an innovative brain health program to help boost your brain health and wellness and really improve cognitive function.
Steps You Can Take Now
Whether you are at high risk for dementia-related disease because it runs in your family, you’ve been having some of the symptoms above, or you simply want to make sure your brain health stays optimal, here are some things you can start doing today to improve your brain health:
- Exercise - 150 minutes of physical exercise per week7,8
- Include more plants in your diet8
- Eat less processed foods and more whole foods
- Control your cholesterol
- Keep your blood pressure under control
- Watch your blood sugar level
- Take care of your gut health9,10
- Stop smoking and limit alcohol intake8
- Stay active socially
- Get enough sleep
- Lose weight
- Take up a new skill or cognitive challenge, such as:
- Learning a new language
- Going back to school
- Learning to juggle
- Learning tai chi
- Writing a story
- Learning to play an instrument
- Subscribing to brain games11,12
Alternative Therapies & Treatment to Improve Brain Health
A holistic treatment approach acknowledges that no body part or organ system works in total isolation. The body functions like a symphony, with each part working together in harmony. An Integrative approach to keeping our brains healthy means we address the individual as a whole with all subsystems working optimally and well integrated.
When the body has been chronically overwhelmed or unable to keep up with normal maintenance and repair functions, due to some underlying factor (infection, toxicity, pathogen, an autoimmune condition, etc) it will start to deteriorate and malfunction over time. These hidden factors are sidelining and diverting your body’s available resources and energy into trying to cope with these hidden factors and that sets the stage for a disease process to take hold.
Our approach to brain or cognitive issues is based on locating and treating these hidden underlying factors. This approach opens the door to more treatment vectors to address and correct, which eliminates these hidden burdens and restores energy, immune and neurological function, thereby releasing the full miraculous healing power of the human body. And that’s why we see amazing health progress with patients and even recoveries using this approach.
Looking for Underlying Factors
We use both conventional and alternative methods to locate these contributory factors. Our testing may include one or more of the following:
- Testing for heavy metal toxicity
- Testing for inflammatory markers
- Testing for autoimmune conditions
- Testing for food allergies
- Testing for Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Testing for Lyme disease
- CNS neurocognitive test - assesses the neurocognitive status of the patient including motor skills and performance, memory, attention, and executive functioning.
- MRI with volumetrics - assesses neurodegeneration even at the early stages.
- MoCA cognitive assessment - reveals information on cognitive functioning.
- Vascular health assessment - shows symptoms of heart and vascular disease and the status of the patient’s blood circulation and blood pressure
- Nutritional & dietary deficiency testing
- Testing of neurotransmitters, hormones, minerals, essential fatty acids, and other nutritional markers.
Once all the necessary diagnostics are completed our team of doctors will formulate a treatment program tailor-made for the patient.
Treatment Interventions for Improving Brain Health
We offer a variety of treatment interventions to help improve your brain health. The range of treatment options varies from patient to patient based on what we find during your initial consultation and assessment.
Some patients may only need a few core interventions to see dramatic improvements to their brain health. Other patients may need to implement several more advanced therapies to accelerate the healing process.
Below is a list of the therapies we offer to improve brain health. The list starts with some of the core interventions and proceeds into more advanced therapies:
- Repairing Gut Issues - gut issues like Leaky Gut Syndrome are common triggers for autoimmunity and inflammation and often lead to cognitive issues.
- Addressing Inflammation - we test and treat systemic inflammation, infections, gut issues, other causes of inflammation.
- Food Allergy Treatment - food allergies can trigger inflammation and autoimmune conditions which can lead to cognitive impairment.
- Autoimmune Treatment - autoimmunity is where the body is attacking itself in some way, leading to inflammation and cognitive issues. It often goes undetected and unsuspected.
- Lyme Disease Resolution - if labs come back positive for Lyme we will treat it. Lyme disease can produce debilitating cognitive issues and brain fog
- Dietary and Nutritional Deficiencies - clearing up nutritional deficiencies, supporting the body with the right nutraceuticals to improve brain health including macro/micronutrients, minerals, hormones, neurotransmitters, essential fatty acids, etc.
- Controlling Blood Pressure - keeping blood pressure in a healthy range has been shown to reduce the symptoms of cognitive decline.
- Enhanced External Counterpulsation - increases blood flow and circulation
- Plasmapheresis - separates the plasma from the blood where it is treated and returned to the body.
- Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)- delivers pure oxygen to the patient in a pressurized chamber allowing the lungs to take in more oxygen than normal. This fills the blood with oxygen which can fight bacteria and promote healing.
- Vielight NeURO - delivers photons to a light-sensitive enzyme in the mitochondria which is known to trigger self-repair mechanisms in the cells, enhance cognition, and protect cell neurons.
- Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Technology - emission of electromagnetic waves to stimulate the body’s own healing properties
- Celergen - This is an anti-aging cell therapy supplement that promotes cell renewal and stimulation.
- Peptide Therapy - utilizes specific chains of amino acids called peptides to signal cells to turn on or turn off certain functions. This works to help regulate and rejuvenate neuroendocrine-immune function.
- BrainHQ - This system of brain training exercises Improves brain health.
- Exosome Therapy - a peptide therapy using cell-derived nanoparticles which play a vital role in cell-to-cell communication. They help regulate physiological processes and regenerate older cells by exposing them to exosomes from younger stem cells.
- BrainTap - tapping into specific brainwave states, BrainTap helps to reboot and revitalize the brain, promotes relaxation, and reduces stress on the body and mind.
- Intermittent fasting - through intermittent fasting the body is able to take periodic breaks from digestion so the body can focus all its resources on healing.
- Health Coaching - helps patients keep track of their nutrition, exercise, supplements, and other suggested changes.
Contact Us to Improve Your Brain Health!
If you are looking for help to improve your Brain Health, prevent brain health issues and even possibly reverse existing symptoms through natural treatments, we would love to work with you. Early intervention can help people prevent more serious conditions from developing.For more information, call us at our Clearwater clinic at 727-466-6789 or submit an online patient inquiry.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NIH-NIA, January 24, 2018, Do Memory Problems Always Mean Alzheimer’s Disease?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, April 5, 2019, What is Dementia?
- The American Heart Association Journal (AHA), January 1, 2017, Defining Optimal Brain Health in Adults: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association; Originally published 7 Sep 2017 https://doi.org/10.1161/STR.0000000000000148, Stroke. 2017;48:e284–e303 Gorelick PB, Furie KL, Iadecola C, Smith EE, Waddy SP, Lloyd-Jones DM, Bae H-J, Bauman MA, Dichgans M, Duncan PW, Girgus M, Howard VJ, Lazar RM, Seshadri S, Testai FD, van Gaal S, Yaffe K, Wasiak H, Zerna C; on behalf of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Defining optimal brain health in adults: a presidential advisory from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2017;48:e284-e303. DOI: 10.1161/STR.0000000000000148.
- What is Brain Health, 2019, The Changing Brain
- Science Daily, April 25, 2018, Antidepressants and bladder medicines linked to dementia in landmark study
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging, What is Dementia?
- American Stroke Association, a Division of the American Heart Association, Control Stroke Risk Factors for Brain Health
- Alzheimer’s Association, 2019, Stay Physically Active
- NCBI PubMed, Chin Med J (Engl). 2016 Oct 5;129(19):2373-80. doi: 10.4103/0366-6999.190667, Gut Microbiota-Brain Axis
- NCBI, PubMed, Med Hypotheses. 2019 Sep 26;134:109410. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2019.109410. [Epub ahead of print], Prebiotics and probiotics as potential therapy for cognitive impairment
- Brain Tap, 2008-2018 Train Tap Technologies, Tap Into Your Best Self
- Brain HQ, 2019 Posit Science, Brain Training That Works
- NCBI, PubMed, Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013 Nov;37(9 Pt B):2243-57. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.04.005. Epub 2013 Apr 25. Beneficial Effects of Exercise on Neuroplasticity and Cognition
*Disclaimer: Individual patient results may vary based on a patient's medical history and other factors.