As far as I know, for some people cognitive health concerns during aging outweigh other health threats. Some people worry about age-related memory loss or memory diseases more than other aging diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer. Developing a plan and life style habit can potentially prevent memory function decline and significantly reduce risk of going beyond the mild cognitive impairment for Alzheimer’s disease. Here is a 7-step action plan – the protocol for maintaining a younger sharper brain during aging based on book by Eric R. Braverman, MD.
Step 1: knowledge
The first step is to develop some knowledge about how brain and memory works. What are the brain chemicals important for memory and cognitive functions. Understand “Intrinsic and Extrinsic Causes of Age-Related Memory Loss”, Get to know the difference between the normal age-related memory problems and the abnormal memory disorders (various dementias). Get to know the symptoms and manifestations of normal and diseased memory loss and learn to identify memory and attention problems.
Step 2: Early detection for early intervention
A full brain checkout is recommended to identify adverse changes if is occurring. An early detection and intervention of mild cognitive impairment will prevent or delay the potential onset of Alzheimer’s disease. A full brain checkout enables detection of the most subtle shifts in brain chemistry and electricity. Imaging techniques such as MRI and PET can be used for this purpose. The BEAM, stands for brain electrical activity mapping, is used for assessing brain electrical transmissions. BEAM can accurately measure 4 types of brain wave (see post “brain waves and memory”) which will provide a status report of brain chemical and actual electrochemical transmission patterns. Imaging techniques can be combined with conventional brain test or IQ test to facilitate early diagnosis.
Step 3: Develop a healthy life style
Research has found that many life style factors cause memory loss. These include: smoking, alcohol, lack of exercise, insomnia, stress, anxiety, depression, deficiency in nutrients (e.g. vitamin B1 and B12 deficiency), obesity, other medical diseases (stroke, brain infection and etc.). Regular exercise, a balanced diet, practice stress reduction techniques, mood improvement and a balanced work and leisure time are all important in preventing age-associated memory loss.
Step 4: Healthy diet and use supplements
There are many memory boosting foods available, some of which contain ingredients that are precursors of important brain chemicals. Basically, fruits and vegetables are among the group. Foods that improve mood are also helpful. Listed here in this post are some attention boosting nutrients: B-50 complex, calcium, DMG, Ginkgo biloba, Ginseng, GLA (omega-6 from borage oil), L-phenylalanine, magnesium, NADH, Theanine, TMG, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Yohimbe, Zinc.
Step 5: Practice brain exercises
Besides physical fitness regimens for refreshing and increasing brain blood and nutrient supply, specific brain exercises or brain computer games are designed to train and boost brain function. Braverman’s protocol classify brain IQs into 4 types: the abstract IQ, creative IQ, emotional IQ, and common sense/perceptual IQ. Different brain exercise activities or programs are prescribed for different IQ types and for different areas of memory function. Braverman’s protocol include brain exercises for visual memory, verbal memory, immediate memory, and working memory. Specific brain games for enhancing attention are among the most important to be included. Attention and concentration training products are available on the market. An understanding on how they works and their strength will be helpful. Braverman’s protocol recommend a weekly workout with each day focus on one aspect of the training: Monday – IQ enhancing; Tuesday – attention and focus exercises; Wednesday – visual memory; Thursday – verbal memory; Friday – immediate memory; Saturday: working memory and Sunday – right/left brain exercises.
Step 6: Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy
This can be the first line of treatment for patients who have not been able to achieve the result through diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. This approach can not only be used for preventative purpose but is also effective for reversing mild cognitive impairment. Bioidentical hormones are usually of plant origin, they are considered as natural because they can be functional same as the natural hormone does in the body. Bioidentical hormone replacement usually is administered as the supplements. With aging, the natural level of many hormones declines. Braverman’s protocol has listed about 20 hormones that our brain need directly or indirectly. For example, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)- the hormone secreted by adrenal glands, and precursors of estrogen, testosterone, progesterone – regulates production of dopamine and promote neurogenesis. DHEA also affect the amount of stress hormone cortisol. The decline in DHEA can ultimately lead to mild cognitive impairment. Most individuals in seventies have DHEA level decreased to about 20% of the original production. The decreased level of DHEA has been found to be associated with memory loss and decreased cognitive function. HGH (human growth hormone) is a universal hormone regulates a multitudes of biophysiological process. HGH stimulate neuron renewal throughout the brain including hippocampus – the central area of the brain involved in long term memory formation. HGH level decreases significantly with normal aging. Supplement them slightly promotes improvement in total-body functioning, including many aspects of cognitive development. Its supplementation increases all aspects of brain electrical function including brain speed and increased energy. HGH therapy has clinically proven to reduce the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment
Step 7: Use medications
Traditional medications to treat memory loss are often prescribed for a brain chemical deficiency (see post “brain chemical systems and memory”), sometimes when other treatments are not effective. Some medications work by blocking the binding of certain brain chemicals to nonspecific receptors, making the brain chemical more available to the brain. GABA medications will relieve anxiety, eliminating this external cause of memory loss, Serotonin medications treat depression and insomnia, both of which negatively affect thinking. Dopamine medications (or dopamine boosting medications) help increase attention. Acetylcholine medications can temporarily alleviate symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Medications can relief symptoms but can not cure MCI and dementia, suggesting the importance of early detection, diagnosis and intervention. Life style habits are the most important preventative measure to achieve healthy aging and preserving cognitive capacity and memory function.