The Challenges of Reversing Dementia
In my last blog, I reviewed the work of Dale Bredensen, MD, to reverse Alzheimer’s dementia. I encouraged those interested to do some research and watch a lecture of his through Youtube.
The gentleman I referenced in the last blog did come in with his wife for a follow-up visit.
To my pleasant surprise, she had researched Dr. Bredesen’s work and was motivated.
She described herself as “holistic” and was keen on pursuing a more effective non-pharmaceutical strategy.
Her husband told me at the prior visit that he was going to be walking for exercise. His wife said he hadn’t been out walking for months and didn’t think it would happen even though their puppy needed to go out.
At the prior visit, he told me he didn’t really like fruits and vegetables, but would try to shift away from the grains and carbohydrates with low nutrient density. His wife said she bought a variety of healthier foods, but the bag of oranges was untouched. He did have a couple of apples during that week, but no vegetables.
I had also discussed the potential benefits of fasting. Fasting can promote brain health through a process called autophagy. To simplify, autophagy involves the elimination and recycling of the constituents within cells, including the neuronal cells in the central nervous system.
His wife thought a 12+ hour fast between dinner and breakfast would be relatively easy because he had a decreased appetite. She was not optimistic about a 24-hour water fast each week and a 2-3 day fast every few months.
We reviewed supplements. I recommended 2,000mg-3,000mg of omega-3 fatty acids and Ben Lynch’s hydroxy B12 supplement at 2,000 mcg daily.
He will be seeing a memory specialist for follow-up within the next few weeks. I would expect that the specialist will discuss pharmaceuticals. Standard approach from almost all neurologists is to start with Aricept and then add Namenda.
Dr. Bredesen mentions in one of his lectures that only one of the past 244 compounds developed by the pharmaceutical industry (Namenda) has shown any benefit. Perhaps, the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on these compounds would have been better used in other areas.
The path to improvement is incredibly difficult for those suffering from dementia. It is brutal to overhaul our diets and move away from our well-established habits. Support from family and friends is critical for those struggling to eat, move and live optimally.
We need to make fundamental lifestyle changes early in our lives rather than wait until we have health problems. If you or someone you care about it has shown signs of memory loss, you have a choice. You can make a firm commitment to implement the diet and lifestyle changes that can make a difference or wait and hope that some day there will be a magic memory pill.
Andrew Lenhardt, MD