Brain health is a major concern these days. Many of us worry that our brain isn't working as well as it used to. Often we have family members or loved ones whose cognitive abilities seem to be declining. Then there are those who have had one or more concussions, which increases the risk of developing dementia.
No matter the cause of early cognitive decline, too many people, including physicians, assume that nothing can be done to stop or reverse the decline beyond prescribing medications. Too few doctors talk to patients and families about what else they can do to improve this condition.
What most people, including physicians, don't realize is that 75% to 90% of the risk for developing a dementia-related illness lies with just three factors: quality of diet, smoking status, and the physical activity level. There is plenty to be done without relying on prescription medication.
Here are the top five things you can do to decrease your risk of developing cognitive decline. They're also things you or someone you love who is already suffering from mild cognitive decline could do right now to improve health.
1. Eat more wild fish and grass-fed meat.
These contain DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that the brain uses to make myelin, the insulation on the wiring between brain cells.
2. Eat 2 to 3 cups of green leafy vegetables each day, and organic clarified butter from grass-fed cows.
The butter is a good source of vitamin K2, and the bacteria in your gut will metabolize the vitamin K1 in the greens into vitamin K2. Your body needs vitamin K2 to properly use vitamin D and produce myelin.
3. Eat deeply pigmented berries and vegetables, such as beets.
Pigments are a marker for polyphenols, or antioxidants. Diets higher in antioxidants have lower rates of dementia and other forms of chronic disease.
4. Stop consuming any artificial sweeteners or flavor enhancers.
These compounds are excito-toxins, placed in your food to trick your brain into overconsumption. They also increase the amount of glutamate in your brain to excessive levels. It is best to avoid foods that have added foodlike chemicals.
5. Stop eating sugar and white flour-based products.
These products have a high glycemic index, meaning they cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin. Elevated insulin competes with enzymes that remove toxic tau proteins from the brain, preventing the brain from taking care of itself appropriately.
Addressing diet quality is one of the most powerful interventions you have to stop and reverse cognitive decline, which is why I created the Food Fundamentals course to help you protect and heal your brain. In it, I outline how the epidemic of chronic disease developed over the centuries, the role food choices play in the health of our cells, the role of toxins in chronic disease, including dementias, and how to design an eating plan to help you achieve better health and vitality.
Learn more about my work on my website, and from my new book, The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles.