Almost everyone has experienced a relative who has suffered serious deterioration in brain function, sometimes at a relatively early age. As we age, many of us are terrorized by this prospect and think the worst when we can’t remember names or forget things that we’re not supposed to forget. There is no effective therapy once the damage is done, but there’s an enormous amount Of effort in research attempting to understand the mechanism underlying brain deterioration, identify those susceptible and intervene with hopefully preventable measures to slow or possibly even prevent Alzheimer’s.
Recently 70 different genes have been identified which contribute to Alzheimer’s. With this information, there are apparently different mechanisms that contribute to the deterioration via tau protein tangles, inflammation, and amyloid formation.
It is known that atherosclerosis and diabetes accelerate brain dysfunction and we know how to slow these processes. We also know that quality sleep Gives the brain time to clean itself up. We know that exercise, good diet, social interaction, good hearing, and stimulating mental tasks all tend to promote brain health.
Whereas there are no good medicines to treat advanced brain loss, there are many potential interventions to slow brain deterioration This may include manipulating the gut-brain axis, changing the gut Microbiome, omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA, to all sorts of neurotrophic supplements including royal jelly from bees.
Stacy Beaupre, PA, and I have been working with Cambridge Brain Sciences, a state-of-the-art neurocognitive testing company that has developed a gamified online testing platform for memory, concentration, spatial orientation, problem-solving, and other brain functions to identify baseline brain function. Stacy has developed a protocol where we can email these tests to patients who can perform them several times per year in a time-controlled quiet home environment and we can follow brain function quality. It enables us to see what measures we can each actually do to increase our cognitive performance Including good diet and sleep, exercise, and gut and supplement interventions. We can also learn which activities, including toxin exposures, tobacco, and poor sleep and health habits accelerate deterioration. We all experience brain fog, we wonder if we’re ‘losing it’ and these tests help us to appreciate where we are over time and how these Interventions affect each of us individually. This is purely voluntary, and we are finding entire families including kids, interested in using these tests to evaluate brain function, including for ADD, concussions, depression, etc.