Human blood retains a link to ancient Cambrian seas; the same balance of salts and minerals that existed in the primitive oceans half a billion years ago is present in blood.11 Fascinating Blood Flow Facts from the Human Body by Susan Eymann, MS
Have you ever really thought about your blood–what it does, why we depend on it, how much information it holds? I imagine that our blood speaks– in cries, in whistles, in moans, in shouts, in complaints; yet to us, it is silent. The only way to really hear how our blood is speaking is to bring it out from its 66,000 mile-long inner pathway into the lab. For dementia prevention we need to listen!
When you visit a GP’s office or emergency department with an unknown illness, a doctor will commonly draw some blood to gain a better idea of what’s going on inside your body. Blood is perhaps the most important window through which we can peer into a person’s health or illness.“The Conversation” website on July 26, 2017. “Blood Tests and Diagnosing Illness.”
Why is blood testing the first step in Dr. Bredesen’s cognoscopy for dementia prevention?
Blood testing is the first step in the cognoscopy because the blood can reveal our vulnerability to the three types of brain insults that can lead to cognitive decline according to chapter 6 –“The God Gene and the Three Types of Alzheimer’s Disease” in The End of Alzheimer’s by Dr. Dale Bredesen. (Find a review here.) The first is chronic inflammation caused by infections or poor diet, the second is suboptimal hormones and nutrients, and the third type is from an overload of toxins.
So Many Ingredients for Brain Health!
After working for almost thirty years on the physiopathological mechanisms of Alzheimer’s, Dr. Bredesen has determined that the following metabolic substances play critical roles in the prevention or reversal of cognitive decline: homocysteine, vitamins B1, B6, B12 and folate, insulin, vitamin D3, thyroid hormones, hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, cholesterol and other lipids, vitamin E, the copper:zinc ratio, destructive heavy metals such as lead, and mercury and, lastly, beneficial minerals such as magnesium and selenium. With this in mind, he established “optimal values” for each substance that often differ from the “reference range” used by most US labs (see The End of Alzheimer’s pages 167-169).
Here’s a Google spreadsheet I created that has helped me simplify the complex information on all the testing items. Armed with quantitative facts organized in an orderly way, we can address any dementia prevention problem areas.
The Education of Dr. Traditional
It was time to visit my general practitioner to get prescriptions for the blood tests. As the daughter of two parents with dementia, I was highly motivated and newly educated about dementia prevention. With Bredesen’s book and two of his scholarly articles in hand I asked Dr. L. if she knows about new research showing that it is possible to reverse Alzheimer’s disease. “No, I have never heard of this and probably would not believe it,” she said brusquely. In spite of her comment and at the risk of appearing to know more than my doctor, I gingerly showed her the book cover and offered her two articles. (Once you get to this link, scroll down to Publications and find the two on cognitive reversal.)
She reluctantly agreed to order a round of the tests considered to be more basic: the hormones cortisol, estrogen, and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), CBC (complete blood count), Vitamins B1, B6 and B12, high- sensitive CRP (C-reactive protein), the amino acid homocysteine, fasting glucose, and last but not least, cholesterol. I compared the numbers from the local Quest Lab results with Dr. Bredesen’s list of optimal values and discovered several important changes that I could make with minimal expense to increase my dementia-prevention efforts.
My Low-cost (DIY) Adjustments Based on Blood Testing Round One
- with a product recommendation from a naturopath I began taking the active forms of B complex vitamins to lower my homocysteine level
- in order to lower my fasting glucose level, I have increased my exercise time and intensity, I will continue my no-dairy and no-gluten diet and I will minimize my intake of high sugar fruits. In six months, I will have the level re-checked
- to lower my small particle LDL, I am working to reduce my intake of saturated fats
- because my estrogen level is too low, I am doing research on the optimal level of estrogen for post-menopausal women and nutritional substitutes for hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
The Second Round
When I came back about a month later, Dr. L. said that she had read the articles on dementia prevention on her vacation and even shared them with several colleagues. Yay! She was still skeptical but more open and she agreed to prescribe the second round of tests. Quest did not complete all the requested tests but from the ones I got, I could see that this batch of values were within the optimal range. I was fortunate that my Medicare Advantage health insurance plan from Humana (I live in Delaware County, PA) has apparently covered all the first and second round tests with just a minimal copay.
Now I need to decide if I want to get the remaining tests done. If so, then I need to first find out why Quest didn’t do some of those tests from the second batch. Then, if they aren’t equipped to do those, I’ll need to go elsewhere. Lastly, I know I’ll need to find a place for the genetic testing, but I’ll be writing more about that in a later blog.
I encourage you to try educating your primary care physician unless, against all odds, they already know about the new research on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia prevention and reversal. Has anyone else attempted this?
Have you had blood testing like this done? If it was done within three to six months, you could plug any relevant values into the spreadsheet and move on to specific tests that were not done.
NOTE: this website is not endorsed by Dr. Bredesen and is not intended for medical diagnosis or prescription. If you have symptoms of memory loss already, visit MPI Cognition (now AHNP)for professional help. You alone are responsible for your health.