How do you care for a complex device like your smartphone or computer? Do you subject it to harsh conditions and expect it to handle them? Do you stop using it for fear it will degrade if you do? Probably neither. You treat the device with care, giving it what it needs to operate, and then use it reasonably. You recognize how easily improper environment could damage it. Yet you use it — and it gets better when you do: the operating system keeps getting upgraded, you load better apps, and literally you make it smarter as you use it.
Would you consider doing the same for your own brain? This complex device is easily damaged by misuse, but gets better with proper use. Sadly, many of us either worry about getting dementia as we age or are already seeing signs of mental deterioration, yet we aren’t motivated enough to take care of this delicate machine we depend upon to think, perform at work, and simply enjoy life. Dementia isn’t inevitable, and even if it is starting to appear, it can be slowed.
Dementia may be one of the cruelest diseases you could get: while you might not feel physical pain, having trouble thinking and remembering robs you of life itself. Often those with dementia are also depressed, both because the disease itself can cause depression, and because loss of basic mental function itself is depressing. An article from the Swank Center for Memory Care and Geriatric Consultation notes that depression may be the first sign of brain failure even before dementia sets in, but depression could also lead to dementia by increasing inflammation and prompting some harmful chemicals in the body.
They state, “Everyone agrees that depression and dementia together create more suffering and complications than either condition alone.” They feed on each other.
Depression is essentially mental pain. You may have no actual pain, but you would prefer physical pain to the mental anguish of depression. And once depressed, how do you even muster enough desire to work at getting rid of the depression? You are a sitting duck for medications that promise an easy, quick fix. Yet drugs may not be the best option, and even if they seem to help, they may be doing long term damage that makes the situation worse later.
Alzheimer’s Association states that over 6 million Americans are now living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, and that the number will more than double by 2050. They also note that dementia deaths have increased 16% during the COVID-19 period — isolation due to COVID fear has done great harm to the older population, and part of that is the rise in depression due to lack of social interaction.
Depression and dementia — deterioration of the brain
For your mind to function, your brain needs to be healthy. A healthy brain requires a healthy body. They are intricately connected — consider the effect of separating your brain from your body if you have doubts.
The most common form of brain damage leading to dementia is protein plaque build-up, which can happen a couple of ways. Amyloid plaque occurs when clumps of the protein beta-amyloid form in the brain, disrupting communication between nerve cells. The plaque triggers inflammation, which can also damage the brain further. If the hippocampus, which is the memory part of the brain, has many of these amyloid clumps, Alzheimer’s results. Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) occur with a protein called “tau”, which is an important protein needed in the formation of microtubules in the brain, when it is altered. The microtubules are long cylinders needed for cell division, transport of nutrients between cells, and are a part of the brain’s structural support. Altered (hyperphosphorylated) tau proteins cannot bind properly and result in weakened microtubules that are prone to tangling together, blocking their function and eventually leading to their breakdown and disintegration . This disrupts the neuron transport system of the brain, essentially blocking brain function in that region.
One or both of these protein abnormalities cause dementia. The common thread is the damage to otherwise useful protein. The main culprit with tau damage appears to be oxidation, where free radicals damages the protein, or where enzymes called kinases are activated by the oxidation, which in turn promotes the transfer of phosphate molecules to the tau proteins. Amyloid proteins are generally misfolded, and while the reasons they misfold are unclear, the body can scavenge misfolded proteins when it is not overloaded with new proteins. In both cases, providing a better cellular environment can help prevent or reduce the damage. Providing the right nutrients, countering free radicals, good water and oxygen supply, and low stress can all help provide that environment.
This doesn’t have to be your future
If this article has depressed you, now let’s consider the good news. Ready? The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation states that regular physical exercise can reduce risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 50%. The Mayo Clinic states that “regular physical activity benefits the brain…physical activity also tends to counter some of the natural reduction in brain connections that occurs with aging.” It further states that various studies show a lower risk of mental decline in those who are physically active, and that activity improves function for those with vascular cognitive impairment. Published in The BMJ (British Medical Journal), researchers reviewed 256 studies involving 28,483 people with dementia, finding that “drug approaches alone were no more effective than usual care” in reducing symptoms of depression in the study population, but that cognitive stimulation, exercise, and environmental modifications such as greater social interaction, were all more effective. Published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital studied data from over 600,000 adults and found “more evidence than ever before that physical activity does play an important, and likely causal, role in reducing risk for depression.” Published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, a research study found that “limited face-to-face social contact nearly doubles someone’s risk of having depression.” Email and Zoom did not count as face-to-face social interaction!
The simple message of all these studies is: to counter both depression and dementia, get out and live! Life is activity, motion, and people. Life is taking in good environment, love and gratitude, and just getting out in the world. Note to COVID concerned people: consider the slow death of hiding from one disease that you dread so much if you retreat from the things that give you life.
Does it seem strange that those who fear in life often see their health degenerate, while those who embrace life worry less and are often healthier? It’s not strange — this is the way we are made to live. We tend to get what we expect in life. Anger, stress, and depression tend to be self-fulfilling and health-damaging. Make health a priority — that is the best way to achieve it.
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
Your brain and your mind are an extension of your body, and your body is an extension of your mind and brain. What you do to one affects the other. What they are saying in the research is the cause of this brain / memory problem is oxidized proteins that become not only useless but harmful and set off an inflammatory reaction in the brain and damage brain cells, including memory cells. Why is your brain inflaming? The same reasons your body is inflaming: wrong food, wrong thought, wrong lifestyle. What these studies showed is just moving more with exercise daily and living life to the full each day can decrease your risk over 50%. Now to that you add proper diet (we customized diet for each patient according to food sensitivities and reactivities), proper water consumption, correct breathing pattern (we train this at the Institute), proper sleeping patterns, detoxing the physical toxins, and most importantly the subconscious and conscious stress programs (with our heart brain entrainment therapy and brain mapping and 3D brain imaging). Now we are in a very good place for the body and the brain to heal.
We had a patient with significant dementia and after three months of treatment her family was astonished that she actually was starting to carry on normal conversations like she used to. Most everything in the body and the brain is constantly repairing and replacing, but you need to help it do its job, or else the job does not get done and the disease prevails.
We are here to help you in your health journey.
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.