Tips to Keep Your Brain Healthy as You Age

I doubt there are many of us who haven’t watched with considerable anguish as our friends and relatives have aged, and suffered at least some degree of mental compromise, whether it takes the form of Alzheimer’s, senility, dementia, mental confusion, or chronic anxiety.

On the positive side, we’ve all seen folks who appeared to not lose any function at all. What’s going on?

Surely, genetics plays a huge role in mental health outcomes. But is the loss of our mental faculties inevitable for those of us whose family histories include some form of mental incompetence?

At Pacific Naturopathic, we know that genetic predispositions do not necessarily have to manifest, and we’ve developed strategies for ourselves and our patients to ward off mental degradation. We’ll lead off a series of articles on preserving brain health with insights from Dr. Connie. – Dr. Marcel

Keep Your Brain Healthy!

by Connie Hernandez, ND

Are we destined to repeat our families’ genetic predisposition to failing brain capacity as we age?

Dr. Connie Hernandez, ND

Fortunately, the expression of genes can be modified! There’s a lot we can do to keep our brains healthyas we age, with more new treatments on the way. 

According to Dr. Daniel Amen, author of many books on brain health, including Supercharge Your Brain, Reverse Memory Loss, and Remember What Matters Most, we should all be adopting Alzheimer’s prevention protocols throughout our lives.

Dr. Amen calls his brain-health protocol BRIGHT MINDS.

Each letter denotes a modifiable risk factor for brain health: B, for example, is for Blood Flow. Anything that constricts the flow of blood to the brain – e.g., caffeine, alcohol, smoking, hypertension, lack of exercise – increases the risk of Alzheimers. And anything that increases brain blood flow (e.g., botanicals such as gingko biloba, exercise, hyperbaric oxygen, and various foods) will decrease the risk.

  • Numerous other botanicals, nutrients, and hormones favorably impact the brain by serving as antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, vasodilators and antimicrobials.
  • The DHA (docosahexanaeoic acid) in fish oil is widely known to nourish the brain.
  • Lithium from food grows gray matter in the brain.
  • Phosphatidyl serine helps restore the integrity of the brain’s hippocampal area.

Dr. Amen lists a number of other brain risk factors: inflammation, genetics, head trauma, toxins, emotional and mental health, neurohormone deficiencies, blood sugar, weight (diabesity), and sleep.

He suggests practical ways to reduce these factors and support our brains as we – and they – age.

Dr. Daniel Amen

For example, brain games can enhance focus and memory.

Dr. Amen joins other clinicians in recommending that we improve our brains by learning new activities. If you’ve never played a musical instrument, pick one up now and see what you can do.

I was surprised to hear Dr. Amen recommend crocheting or knitting as excellent brain exercises. These activities require hand-eye coordination that activates the cerebellum and turns on the rest of the brain.

A promising new development is the use of low-level laser treatments to treat the brain.

Vielight, a Canadian company that specializes in photobiomodulation (PBM), has launched a new R&D center to analyze brain function. The company sells a nasal laser and a sophisticated NeuroPro device that includes a nasal laser and a cap-like element that positions multiple LEDs over the scalp.

Ongoing studies are exploring the use of these devices for the prevention and treatment of dementia, and for modulation of mental states in general.

There’s so much we can do to keep our normal brain function as we age. The simple act of increasing our exercise can have a profound positive effect. Eat as much healthy, unaltered organic food as close to its natural state as possible. Don’t’ wait!

Read more about the medical services Dr. Connie offers here: