Today I watched Episode 01 of Alzheimers – Science of Prevention, a groundbreaking documentary series, featuring David Perlmutter, MD, board-certified neurologist and #1 NYT bestselling author, along with leading experts in the field of brain health.
This fantastic series reveals the powerful ways we can decrease our chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. According to Wikipedia, Alzheimer’s is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and worsens over time. It is the cause of 60–70% of cases of dementia.
With Alzheimers reported to be the fastest growing epidemic among the aging, I want to know what I can do now to optimize my brain health long-term. I took copious notes while watching this episode and want to share these important insights from the series with you below.
For full access to this series, as well as for bonus interviews not included in the free series, check out access to the series here.
Episode 01 Notes:
Your Brain’s Destiny Is In Your Hands.
How Common Is Alzheimer’s?
- 40 million people are diagnosed with Alzheimers around the world
- 5.5 million people with Alzheimers are in the USA
- “This is by and large, a preventable disease” – Dr David Perlmutter
- Alzheimers is the fastest growing epidemic in the West. If you live to be 85, your chances of getting Alzheimers are 50-50. That’s a flip of a coin.
- Mortality in all chronic diseases has been on the decline – heart disease, diabetes, cancers – however, in the last 15 years, the prevalence and mortality of Alzheimers has increased 123%. And that number is only increasing exponentially. So, every family will be affected in the next few years.
- Currently in the USA, about 15% of people lifelong will develop Alzheimers. – Dale Bredesen, MD
What is the root cause and why are more people developing Alzheimer’s?
An Aging Society:
“Alzheimers is increasing for several reasons. One is because we are an aging society. But before I go on to explain that, I just have to say that, just because you’re aging does not mean that you have to go on and develop Alzheimers. – Dean Sherzai, MD // Alzheimers Prevention Society, Loma Linda University
The other factor is the environmental change we’ve seen in the last 50 years. There’s a lot that’s been added to our water, to our foods, to our environment that we’re not accounting for and I’m sure that has a component as well.” – Dean Sherzai, MD // Alzheimers Prevention Society, Loma Linda University
“The evidence suggests that the biggest driver in the explosion (of Alzheimers) is actually things like changes in our environment and the way in which we live our lives.
And almost all of these (environmental & lifestyle) changes are driving a process which is at the heart of Alzheimers and virtually every other chronic degenerative condition you can think of. And that is – INFLAMMATION. Inflammation comes from the Latin word inflamar which quite literally means ‘to set on fire’. – Dr David Perlmutter
Inflammation, it turns out, is present in the brains of nearly all Alzheimer’s patients. And, it’s important to point out that this inflammation is different from the healthy form of inflammation that helps you heal from wounds. Instead, this is a chronic, smoldering process that is tremendously damaging to the body and especially the brain. This inflammation is linked to all manner of diseases but most important to this conversation, it is a core part of our discussion of Alzheimers.” – Dr David Perlmutter
“The main thing that causes damage to the brain also causes damage to every other age-related disease, whether it’s diabetes, cancer, obesity or heart disease – it’s INFLAMMATION. And it’s not the kind of inflammation where you get a swollen finger, it’s hidden inflammation. And it’s inflammation of the brain. And there’s only so many ways your brain has of saying “ouch”, and one of the ways is by your brain getting demented and losing your memory. So, treating inflammation is critical. And they’ve done big studies, giving people Advil, for example. And, it doesn’t do anything. You can’t give people drugs that shut off inflammation because you’re not dealing with the cause of inflammation.” – Dr Mark Hyman
“When we see cognitive decline, we need to start asking, “what’s causing it?” Inflammation in the body. Impaired cell to cell communication. And let’s address those underlying root causes … rather than labeling another diagnosis … or writing them off because you’re over 70.” – Anna Cabeca, DO, OB/GYN
Insulin Resistance, Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes:
“The mechanism of how Alzheimer’s first starts in the brain a little different than what we previously thought. It’s multi-dimensional and multi-pronged. Some people first develop insulin resistance, whether through diabetes or pre-diabetes. That process starts the inflammatory cascade which leads to increased inflammation of the brain which at some point leads the system of reserve in the brain is actually overwhelmed and that leads to amyloid and neuronal damage but more importantly, to axonal damage – the connections between neurons are damaged. And one of the first areas that is affected is the area of focus and short-term memory in the hippocampa. And then the cascade keeps rolling from there. Going to the great er brain and then Alzheimers. – Dean Sherzai, MD // Alzheimers Prevention Society, Loma Linda University
What can you do to prevent Alzheimer’s?
Nutrition, Toxins, Blood Sugar, B Vitamins, Microbiome & Gut Health, Exercise, Sleep, Stress:
“You can’t wait until you’re already suffering from memory loss. This process begins 20 or 30 years before you get your first symptom. This is documented through sophisticated PET scans which look at the brain and the development of amyloid.
- You have to start with children and what they’re eating.
- Look at your exposure to toxins, look at your biomarkers that relate to Alzheimers.
- What’s going on with your blood sugar and insulin?
- What’s going on with your levels of B vitamin?
- What’s going on with your gut?
- With your toxic load?
- With your level of exercise?
All these play a huge role. What’s frightening is that 1 in 4 teenagers has pre-diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes. These people are at risk for Alzheimer’s. So, if you’re in your 20s or 30s, it’s important to look at these factors. If you are slowly gaining belly fat, that is not a good thing. If you have belly fat, that is brain damage.” – Dr Mark Hyman
What are the 5 most important bullet points for an Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan?
- Nutrition & Diet: “#1 is diet. It turns out to be very important to get yourself into mild ketosis, to have an anti-inflammatory diet, to improve your insulin sensitivity, to optimize your microbiome. These things are all critical part of the diet. And, there are appropriate times of fasting as well.
- Exercise: Then secondly, exercise – both strength training and aerobic exercise. If you happen to like high intensity, then great. Again, this helps you with a number of factors.
- Sleep: Then, SLEEP. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep and make sure that it is good, high quality sleep. You want to allow sleep to enhance your cognition.
- Stress: And then, reducing stress levels. When I was training, the idea that someone should seek joy and go out and do meditation and things like that, I thought that was a joke. But it turns out, I can’t ignore the data that these things no doubt help in a number of ways.
- Brain Training: And then, brain training turns out to be very helpful. Learning a new language, challenging your brain. Your brain is going to enjoy being in this better environment that you have provided it and it will respond very nicely.
- Hormones, Nutrients, Etc.: And beyond that, if there is hormone balancing that needs to occur or specific herbs, you can talk to your practitioner. Or if there are specific nutrients, all these things are critical. But these are the basics that will make cognitive decline a rare condition.” – Dale Bredesen, MD, UCLA School of Medicine
What should you avoid to prevent Alzheimer’s?
“The changes that I think are best for brain health include avoiding processed foods, carbohydrates and vegetable oils.” . – Georgia Ede, MD
The Trinity of Health:
“I think optimizing brain function and optimizing brain health really comes down to what I call the Trinity of Health. And that is Sleep, Low Carb Nutrition and Movement, getting your body moving. . Dominic D Agostino, PhD, USF Dept of Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology
What percentage of Alzheimer’s could be prevented?
“Well, if you look at genetics, you could say that 95% could be prevented because it’s only 5% or less that genetics seems to have a very high penetrance. I believe that this 95% where these are sporadic could virtually, all of them, be prevented.” – Dale Bredesen, MD, UCLA School of Medicine
“I know that 99% of my risk of Alzheimer’s is actually in my hands. I can make choices each day to reduce my risk of Alzheimer’s – with my fork, with the exercise I do, with my levels of stress, with the way I take care of my gut and reduce inflammation, track and measure it. With the way I connect with other people. With the way I map my life onto purpose, meaning and intention. So there is so much you can do.” – Sara Gottfried, MD, Author of Brain Body Diet
Thank you, Dr. David Perlmutter and experts featured in this series for sharing your life-changing knowledge, practical tips and habits to help us optimize our brain health. It’s incredibly empowering and inspiring to know that we have more control over our cognitive health than statistics suggest.
Here are some takeaway actions from Episode 01 that we can implement today:
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods:
- Get into mild ketosis. (Learn more about how to get into ketosis here.)
- Stop eating processed food. (Anything that comes in a box, package or can and not from Mother Nature)
- Try to minimize or avoid processed sugar. It’s in so many things. Read food labels.
- Improve your gut microbiome health. Here are some tips.
- Intermittent Fasting:
Move your body!
- Aerobic and cardio exercise
- Strength training
Get 7-8 quality hours of sleep each night. Be sure to go to sleep at times that align with your circadian rhythm (which is usually a 9-11pm sleep time)
To your health xx