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Dr Bredesen touches on the topic of isolation and how it affects mental decline, especially in nursing homes where stimulation is key. He reviews some practices that people can use to keep their brain healthier for longer, by continuing ancestral traditions our bodies inherited through evolution.
For more information on Dr. Bredesen’s new book, The End of Alzheimer’s Program, visit https://www.amazon.com/End-Alzheimers-Program-Protocol-Cognition-ebook/dp/B081Y3QF4C
Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Welcome back everyone. We’re here with Dale Bredesen and we’re talking about his work, his new study, the impact of the pandemic on your brain. What do you think Dale, the impact of isolation on so many people in care facilities has been where they were getting regular visits from their family and all of a sudden it stopped.
Dr. Dale Bredesen:
Yeah. Great point. If I may just to go back to a point you made in the last segment, when you say the word Alzheimer’s or the term Alzheimer’s disease, that should never be followed by a period. In the 1600s, people died from fever and that was a perfectly acceptable thing to say, “He or she died from fever.”
Of course, we understand. We say fever due to what? Pneumococcus, due to COVID-19, what it is. The people should be doing the same with Alzheimer’s. You should never say someone has Alzheimer’s and then have a period. Alzheimer’s due to what? Now you brought up the point about what happens to the facilities when people are there. About 80% of the people who enter those facilities have some cognitive changes, and we’re actually now just in the middle of setting up a program so that there can be improvements. And there’s a wonderful place in San Diego called Marama, M-A-R-A-M-A. Set up by Dr. Heather Sandison. And I think you know Heather, that works with people in residential assisted living and tries to improve them. And she’s seeing wonderful results with people in the facility. So that’s the way of the future. And you’re right, when people stop coming, there is more anxiety, unfortunately people go downhill more rapidly. There’s less social networking, there’s less of a reason.
Of course, there’s less of a reason to live. That’s the bottom line. You need that support, just as a professor, Mike Merzenich has pointed out over the years with his wonderful brain training that he developed. You have to have that use of this amazing 500 trillion synapse network that you have inside your skull. And you’ve got to have stimulation of that. And of course, just as you’ve seen, and we’ve seen as well when we treat these people with cognitive decline, the ones that do the best are the ones that have some form of stimulation included in the overall program. Whether you like BioLite, whether you like magnetic stimulation, whether its social interaction, whether it’s brain training or all of the above, this is really helpful. And so you’re right losing that is a real problem.
I love what you said about, “It should never be followed by a period.” And I know you’ve been saying that forever about depression, anxiety, even Alzheimer’s. It’s many things.
It’s all of these thing. None of the mental health problems are single or simple disorders. There’re many roads to it.
There’s an underlying course.
And I love Dale, your analogy. It’s like you have a roof and there’s not one leak. It’s like, there’s 36 different leaks. And if you don’t go plug all of them, you’re not going to have a dry house.
Absolutely. And there’s a threshold again, just as Dr. Dean Ornish showed 35 years ago, when you’re trying to reverse atherosclerosis, you have got to get over that threshold. There’s a threshold you’re putting down the plaque and it’s because you’ve got more putting down than taking up. At some point, you’re going to get on the good side of that threshold. And of course you see the same thing with things like depression and autism. We see the same thing with cognitive decline. People are on the wrong side where they’re, synaptoclastic, they’re pulling back signals, outweigh their synaptoblastic just as you have with osteoporosis where you’ve got too much uptake of bone and not enough putting it down, same thing with synaptic formation and maintenance. And so you’ve got to do everything possible to get over that threshold. Now you start to see actual improvement, and it’s not magic. It’s simply biochemistry and neurochemistry. You need to address that, and then you start to see people improving.
So exciting. What are some of the practical things you think people should be doing every day to maintain their brain?
Yeah, and I think you’ve written about this beautifully and extensively over the years. And I think that there’s a whole host of things that so many of us tend to forget. And it really does start with honoring some of our ancestral traits and basically things that give us our humanness. We were built evolutionarily and we see this beautifully with, APOE4 for example, because all of us were APOE 44, the very thing that we think of as high risk for Alzheimer’s.
That was all we had as hominids for 96% of our evolution. And it’s just the last 4%, last 220,000 years, APOE3 appeared. And then the last 80,000 years APOE2 appeared. So honoring your ancestral, the way that we were designed evolutionarily, and that starts with getting appropriate sleep just as you indicated, what you see on your SPECT scans when people have sleep apnea is a huge issue. So many people don’t realize. So that’s the first thing to do, find out where you stand with your sleep. And then getting up at an appropriate time and going to bed at an appropriate time. We really again, were made not to be burning the midnight oil staying up happen of course, anyone who trained as an intern and a resident, unfortunately had to stay up. I have no question, I did my brain a lot of damage by being an intern and a resident in medicine and neurology years and years ago. Because you’re staying up all night, night after night, after night, very bad for your brain.
But then, knowing where you stand with a number of your biochemical parameters, I wasn’t trained as a nutritionist. So I’m just trying to get people to get the optimal biochemistry. You want to have your Omega-3 Index be up at 10%, 11%, not down at four or 5%. That’s a critical thing. Knowing that being able to make those things that are going to help you resolve inflammation [crosstalk [00:07:27].
I did a study at Amen Clinics, where I worked with Bill Harris, who created the Omega-3 Index. He gave it to 50 consecutive patients who came to him [inaudible [00:07:43] who were not on fish oil. 49 of them had sub-optimal levels. I mean, it was just insane. And it’s so simple. Just take an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement. I mean, I do it every day. We make something called Omega-3 power squeeze with high levels of EPA and DHA. I just put it in the smoothie every day. It’s just so simple, and my level is always around 12. So [crosstalk [00:08:19] it’s just a simple, easy thing to do. And whenever you do one thing, you’re more likely to do another.
As you feel better, you’re going to start improving and doing more.
You have incentive to do it. You start feeling better, you start having more energy. And I do think that’s another issue you can find out your ketone status very easily. And we do find that people who are getting themselves into mild ketosis do better overall with their cognition. And certainly for anyone who actually has some cognitive decline, check it out. You can, now it, you don’t have to necessarily stick your finger. You can do it with a breathalyzer. There’s a group called Biosense that’s put out a nice breathalyzer it’s actually quite accurate. So blowing those above your seven aces, a good idea to make sure again, if you have cognitive decline, even more important, but a good idea to get into mild ketosis and getting yourself [crosstalk [00:09:15].
I’m telling you. Even I don’t measure my ketones every day and do all that, but I know my body when I started eating carbs during quarantine, you get lazy and you start eating. I’m eating “Healthy carbs,” but if I eat too many of them, I instantly don’t feel good. I feel [inaudible [00:09:33] until I have brain bugs. And then I go back on my keto program. I do my MCT oil and do all that stuff, and go back on my program and eat a lot of plant-based fat. And within a day or two, I’m just like “Bing,” it’s like [inaudible [00:09:48].
Absolutely. And I think this is something again, most of us don’t think about it and we’re out there, we’re getting too many carbs. There’s just no question. And again, what’s interesting to me is we take these things that are actually … We were not designed evolutionarily to eat that many carbs, and yet we’ve gotten so used to it. I don’t know if you’ve seen this wonderful series on National Geographic, which is called The Food That Built America. And it’s really fascinating how Heinz set up the ketchup, and how the chips came to be and how McDonald’s and Ray Kroc developed and how the pizza groups developed all these things. And what’s interesting about these, in each of these cases, they became billion sellers, largely because they had carbs in them that people craved. And so yes-
The more you eat the more you crave.
And it made the serotonin, which makes you feel good in the short-run, but it also increases inflammation that makes you feel bad in the long run. All right. When we come back, we’re going to have our final segment with Dr. Bredesen, where he talked more about practical ways to keep your brain. Stay with us.
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