How much do I love my mind… enough to make the right lifestyle choices?
Has anyone else ever asked that question?
Do I love my mind enough to make the right lifestyle choices? It’s unlikely that any of the almost 6 million Americans who currently have Alzheimer’s have asked themselves that question, and I would not have known to either until my daughter sent me a copy of The End of Alzheimer’s, by Dr. Dale Bredesen. The book is an astonishing account of the author’s thirty years of research into what really causes Alzheimer’s disease and his even more astonishing conclusions.
Who of us with Alzheimer’s disease or with demented parents ever before heard that we now can make meaningful lifestyle choices for dementia reversal or prevention if we’re willing to make some sacrifices? Probably very few, yet, here is a western-trained medical doctor with real patients as testimonies of success (see also Dr. Bredesen’s 2016 article on initial results of human testing of his RECODE protocol), telling us that offspring of parents with dementia no longer need to live helplessly under threat of becoming demented, as if it’s simply a roll of the dice.
In the book Dr. Bredesen writes about Eleanor, whose father had Alzheimer’s and who began developing similar symptoms at age forty. After nine years of continual decline, Eleanor received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. From the book:
[Patient] Eleanor began the RECODE protocol in early 2015, and within six months noticed clear improvements in her cognition. She underwent neuropsychological testing after nine months, which confirmed the improvement.
Miraculous news, right?
I was skeptical, naturally but motivated to read the book because it was my daughter’s gift to me. Granted, I’m a bit of an amateur science geek so, at first, I was mostly interested to read Dr. Bredesen’s explanation of the functions and malfunctions of the brain gleaned from his nearly thirty years of research. His vivid descriptions of synapse-creation and synapse-destruction and of what’s really going on in the demented brain at the molecular level challenged and fascinated me. Thankfully, Dr. Bredesen translates these complex scientific findings into concepts the layperson can understand, but if you’re as skeptical as I was, I urge you to take an hour to watch this interview with Dr. Bredesen.
Helpless no more!
When I got to the chapter in which Dr. Bredesen clearly outlines the lifestyle choices we can make to reduce our risk of getting dementia, I exclaimed outloud, “What?” I can potentially shift my brain’s fate from “high chance of cognitive decline” to “high probability of a bright mind for life?” This was stunning news that would take some time to digest.
By the end of the book, Dr. Bredesen’s research and resulting dementia prevention protocol convinced me to take action. Since then I’ve been reading research from over a dozen other cardiologists, neurologists, functional medicine practitioners and a psychiatrist who preach a similar message. Luckily for us, the consensus is growing, even on which lifestyle areas we should assess–diet, body and brain exercise, sleep, nutritional supplementation, and stress management.
Why Dr. Bredesen?
I’ve decided to focus on Dr. Bredesen’s approach for three reasons: 1) the testing phase makes sense to me for saving money later and for having quantified, baseline knowledge of where I stand now with brain and general health; 2) Dr. Bredesen describes the protocol in enough detail to create meaningful action plans; and 3) As far as I can tell from my research, Dr. Bredesen has completed or is involved in the most clinical research trials on actual dementia-diagnosed patients. There are other doctors offering more generalized prescriptions for lifestyle choices and changes but Dr. Bredesen’s approach is the most thorough and, therefore, most easily customized.
Sure, future research might show that this approach is incomplete or otherwise faulty, but, for now, it’s the best we have, and at sixty-seven I don’t want to wait for future findings. Also, thankfully, according to many medical professionals, doing the protocol is great for general health and even for the prevention of other chronic diseases. I call that a win-win proposition!
Time to Embark
So I’m packing my bags, (along with Peter, Paul and Mary) and preparing to embark. I won’t be on a jet plane or a fancy cruise ship, because I’m going economy style (maybe that’s my RV), meaning I’ll do lots of my own research and attempt to create lower-cost ways to implement the protocol… call it DIY Dementia prevention.
In future blogs we’ll take each step of the protocol as one of our destinations and brainstorm creative ways to get into action! If you are motivated enough to even think about taking on this project, I highly recommend buying The End of Alzheimer’s (I have no financial stake in this recommendation) because I refer to it almost every day.
I’d love to hear from anyone else considering this undertaking. Maybe we can put our bright minds together for this most compelling journey.
NOTE: this website is not endorsed by Dr. Bredesen and is not intended for medical diagnosis or prescription. If you already have symptoms of memory loss, visit MPI Cognition for professional help. You alone are responsible for your health.