Brain Health and Dementia – Food Pharmacy

A few weeks ago we published a post about constipation. Then we mentioned that our upcoming series will be about the crazy exciting subject: the brain. Maybe it feels far-fetched to go from ideal sausages to the brain? But that is not the case! The brain and the gut are enormously interconnected and they are even part of the same system: the gut-brain axis.

The central nervous system (brain and spine) and the enteric nervous system (ENS) in the intestine constantly communicate with each other. It’s like a highway in two directions. Did you know that there are more than 100 million nerve cells in the ESA, which is more than in the spinal cord? This first part about the brain is all about neurodegenerative disease (NDS) and cognitive impairment. The second part about Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lewybody’s dementia (a less attentive type of dementia). The last part will highlight research that has shown positive effects in those with cognitive impairment and dementia, and I will also share some practical tips.

Last week I pushed myself a little more than usual and did a new online course from the USA in cognitive impairment and dementia. This is to gain access to the very latest research and hear and be amazed – there are hundreds of recently published research articles that show what can trigger dementia and how specific nutrition, diet, exercise, stimulation and sleep can affect, prevent and slow down different types of dementia .

Let’s dive into the subject of neurodegenerative disease. For those who suffer from dementia, these diseases are disgusting as the person slowly but surely worsens and eventually eventually loses himself to unrecognizable. Around 5% of the population in Sweden falls ill with NDS every year and this figure may increase as the proportion of the elderly in the population increases. The cost is not only high financially but also physically, mentally and emotionally for those who help their elderly parents and relatives.

Your brain is the body’s control center. It is part of our nervous system which includes the spine, neurons and nerve pathways. Karolinska Institutet writes that NDS is an overarching term for the progressive lost motor, sensor and cognitive structure and function of the nervous system, which ultimately leads to neuronal death. There are several NDS and the most common types are Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. When the nerve cells that control motor skills fail, we get problems with movements / motor skills (ataxia) and when nerves die that have cognitive function, you get dementia. Alzheimer’s accounts for about 60-70% of dementia cases. You can of course get a combo of both dementia and ataxia.

Those who know me would probably describe me as happy, kind and caring but also playful, funny and as a person who can say quirky things. This might be hinted at in some of my posts like the one about constipation and poop. But this topic makes me sad and frustrated as there is so much information about how NDS is incurable and difficult to influence and that is largely true. If you look at conventional medicines, they generally do not work so well and many are poorly tolerated and there is absolutely no cure. Most often, one tries to medicate acute or surrounding symptoms to make it easier for the person with dementia. It is so difficult to research a medicine and most attempts have crashed. More is 99% of all Alzheimer’s medications have failed in the last 15 years. Pfizer has even dropped out of neuroscience as it is simply too expensive and fruitless to try to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. I want to be clear that I am not talking down conventional medicine at all, but I am a big fan and we would not be able to do without our hospitals, health centers, health care staff, researchers and medicines.

The complexity of researching a drug to help NDS such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s is difficult precisely because these diseases are extremely complex, multivariate and autoimmune in nature. Yes you read that right, they are partly autoimmune and complex processes that start much earlier than from the day the disease breaks out and you can make a diagnosis. NDS is difficult to treat and there is NO cure either with medication or naturally. It is all the more important to identify the biggest disease processes, the root causes and above all to detect the symptoms early!

An in-depth study of these three concepts:

  1. The disease process

Depending on the type of NDS you are referred to, the disease process and neuron damage are different depending on where in the brain they happen. I will go deeper into what the research says about Parkinson’s, Lewybody dementia and Alzheimer’s in the second post. What NDS has in common is that nerve cells and nerve tissue are damaged and die, there are free radicals in the brain, neuroinflammation, proteins that clump together, dysfunctional synapses etc. which together lead to structural changes and thus lost function in motor, sensor and cognitive parts of the brain, nervous system and intestine. Research has shown that proteins such as Tau and Amyloid not only accumulate in the brain but are also found in the intestine. This again shows how interconnected the brain and intestines are.

  1. Basic causes and various triggers

Like other chronic diseases, there is rarely a cause. Cognitive impairment and dementia are complex and many causes affect the course of the disease. Research shows, among other things, that the following mechanisms are of great importance:

  • Diseases such as insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, infections, depression, anxiety, pulmonary problems
  • Some medications for anxiety, depression, painkillers, high blood pressure, sleep problems are directly associated with contributing to cognitive impairment and dementia
  • Leaky gut and dysbiosis (wrong balance of intestinal flora)
  • Leaking blood-brain barrier
  • Lack of physical exercise and sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of cognitive stimulation, education and lack of involving the brain and learning new things. There is an expression in English called “if you do not use it, you loose it”, which in this context means that if you do not use a part of the brain, it will not receive any stimulus. Example: You leave all the main bill to the calculator, or you do not have to remember your friends’ phone numbers but everything is in the mobile, or you rely entirely on the GPS to find or remember where you parked the car, and so on…
  • Neuroinflammation, which can occur from chronic inflammation, inflammation in the intestine, an inflammatory diet, alcohol, drugs, smoking, high blood sugar, infections, concussions / head trauma, toxins and impurities, stress, poor blood circulation etc.
  1. Identify pre-clinical symptoms loooooooooo before the disease takes over the brain and body

It is common for a chronic disease to begin many years before a diagnosis is made. You could say it is a spectrum from good to really bad and it happens in different stages. Research shows that the disease process for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s can start 15-20 years before a diagnosis is established. 15-20 years !!! This is where the key to success lies. One must EARLY identify “non-specific” symptoms long before the disease fully breaks out. But can not get back tainted brain tissue!

When it comes to Alzheimer’s, for example, it is common for a person to forget where they put their keys, or parked the car. You simply get worse at remembering things. Who sometimes does not suffer from this ?! It is important to identify as many of these non-specific symptoms and link the information in order to be able to intervene as early as possible. I’m not saying you should be fussy, but you should also not dismiss oblivion as completely normal. The same goes for Parkinson’s, this is also a disease you could affect if you only knew how to identify early symptoms. Here, among other things, constipation is a common pre-motor symptom that has usually been in the picture for years. I will go into more detail on this in the second post.

For me who had six concussions as a young person, I am extremely careful with what I eat, drink, my training and how I live in general. Sometimes ignorance is bliss… at least for the moment, but the link between brain trauma and neurodegeneration is unequivocal. Of course, I worry about what traumas have been set in motion in my brain, but the only thing I can do is pay attention to any symptoms and optimize all self-care. I also know that I have significantly better brain health now than when I was young – so of course it is possible to influence with a good lifestyle.

I hope you liked the post and are inspired to want to be kinder to yourself and your brains.

All Nordic Wellth nutritionists work according to the same model. We have developed well-developed guidelines to ensure that all consultations maintain the same high standard, regardless of which therapist you go to. In addition to solid college education from England, all therapists are coached by me so that our thinking in the consultation process is homogeneous. This way of working has been very successful for our clients.

With us, you are in good hands no matter where in the country you live.

Live well, be well!

Maria

This is a guest post. Any opinions expressed are the writer’s own.