Dementia Can’t Be Used as a Catch-All Term
Dementia is an umbrella term that includes many different types, each with its own set of rules. Some problems are genetic without any good treatment options and some are the result of lifestyle.
Most articles don’t mention that Alzheimer's has two primary causes with two different presentations. The genetic version is the cause of about 6% of cases and usually has a very early onset (maybe about 50 years old) and has a fairly rapid progression. The lifestyle type comes on later (60’s or 70’s) and has a slower progression.
A few other dementia causes can be from frontotemporal dementia, Lewy Body dementia and vascular dementia. I like this NIH chart giving some basic information on the different types.
Most types of dementia are treatable through lifestyle
Many, many cases of dementia are lifestyle treatable. This is both good and bad news. Good news because with some learning and effort you will be able to manage cases in the mild to moderate stages. Bad news because it will require learning and effort, not just a magic pill.
As you can see in the above referenced blog, about 35 lifestyle factors go into diagnosing and managing this type of brain disorder. Healthy brain people have many 3 or 4 problems and people with this type of dementia have maybe 12 to 15 issues to work on.
Brain uses 20% of energy but only weights 2% of the body weight
I find this interesting because is shows how expensive it is to maintain a healthy brain, all the more reason to take steps to support brain health.
The brain is busy all the time, not just when you are awake. It appears from research in mice that about 25% of energy goes toward cell maintenance and 75% is used for signaling. The signaling is achieved by ion pumps moving electrical charges in and out of cells.
The gray matter consumes far more energy than white matter. Auditory circuits are particularly active and energy demanding, more so than the olfactory (smell).
Awake and sleep times seem to have similar energy requirements. Different cognitive activities will increase the energy requirements of different parts of the brain. The increase is not dramatic like the difference in a leg muscle at rest versus running.
You Use All of Your Brain
Anybody who knows anything about the brain knows that we use all of it, not just 10%. This notion of 10% makes me cringe every time I hear it or see it referenced. If a neuron isn’t used, it dies within a couple of weeks.
Gut health and brain health are strongly linked.
Researchers and clinicians alike are ever more aware of the connection between gut health and brain health. Working with lifestyle and diet to decrease gut stress has direct benefits to the brain. The GI tract is sensitive to emotion and diet.
Your brain needs Glutathione
We are exposed to a myriad of toxins from lead and mercury to PFAS. Tetraethyl lead in gasoline appears to have lowered the IQ of a generation or two of people by 3-8 points. Lead is still available in aviation fuel for small planes. Mercury in our environment can cause tremors, insomnia, memory loss, headaches, cognitive decline etc. While burning of coal is decreasing which should help with lowering mercury levels, and burning of leaded gasoline is more rare, PFASs are still widely used and break down very slowly.
Glutathione can help protect the brain from these environmental insults along with more normal toxins. We recommend taking NAC on a daily basis to help your body produce more glutathione.
Brain needs fat
The brain is about 60% fat. Essential fatty acids are critical to brain function. I read years ago that there isn’t enough of the essential fatty acids, EPA and DHA to go around, that is supply every person on the planet. Not getting enough of these will change the way we function as a human culture now and in the future.
Also low fat diets will not give the nervous system the raw materials it needs to build a healthy brain.