A Tale of the Aging Brain

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I LOVE learning and I frequently attend different conferences to benefit my practice, patients and my brain. This past weekend, I completed The Development and Aging of the Brain by Dr. Datis Kharrazian.

Now, I would like to share what I learned WITH YOU!

Breaking News: Dementia is NOT a normal sign of aging. Dementia is caused by an illness of the brain affecting: memory, thinking, behavior and the ability to perform everyday activities. Dementia is progressive and while brain cells never grown back, there ARE evidence-based interventions that may slow progression.  Every 3 seconds, there is one new case of dementia in the world (1); what are we doing to preserve these beautiful brains?

Memory loss, difficulty learning new things, bad with directions, not being able to read as long as you used to; I caution us to not attribute these symptoms to ‘getting old,’ but rather inspire action.

The brain is made up of nerve cells called, the neuron. This neuron is a complex cell whose function depends on lifestyle factors; diet, stress and exercise. Our neurons are precious and once we lose them, they’re gone forever.  Understanding the physiology of the nerve can give us insight into how we can support it.

  • The neuron is made of a cell body that is encompassed by a fatty membrane made of phospholipids. In fact, 60% of the brain is made up of phospholipids! DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) found mainly in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel and mother’s milk, is required for normal brain function in adults (2). Further, fats found in sesame seeds, namely sesamin and sesamolin, were also found to protect the brain of rodents in several studies (3,4). Consuming the right kind of fats in your diet can support healthy brain cell function.

  • A cell’s function is dependent on its ability to make energy. Without energy, the cell is not able to recharge and it dies. Energy production occurs in the mitochondria (AKA POWERHOUSE) of the cell. Therefore, supporting mitochondrial function supports brain health. Feeding older rats with mitochondrial decay alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) and acetyl-l-carnitine partially restored age-associated mitochondrial dysfunction to levels of young rats (5). This means - older rats can make more energy and protect their brain cells from dying when treated with ALA and acetyl-l-carnitine.

  • I commonly see low blood pressure accompanied with symptoms like brain fog. Our brains are dependent on blood to bring it oxygen and nutrients. Without appropriate blood flow, function is compromised.  Concurrently, as we age, our vessels tend to become harder and inflamed, inhibiting that flow. Phytochemicals like Huperzine A from Chinese club moss and ginkgolides from gingko, can support proper blood flow and protect nerve cells (6).

Never stop learning! If you are concerned about brain function, don’t delay and schedule an appointment to see how this medicine can be applied to you.


References:

1.  https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/dementia/en/

2.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10479465

3.https://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/ben/cei/2005/00000001/00000001/art00003?crawler=true

4.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614603/

5.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2790461/

6.  http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/12433056