Reducing Risk of Cognitive Decline: Support Life-Long Brain Health

Cognitive decline is one of the growing causes of death of older Americans. Between 2000 and 2018, deaths resulting from Alzheimer’s increased by 146.2%.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are an estimated 5.8 million Americans age 65 and older who have Alzheimer’s dementia. That figure is estimated to grow to 13.8 million Americans by 2050. 

Both age and genetics are linked to the risk of cognitive impairment. But some lifestyle changes can help patients reduce their overall risk of dementia. 

The first step to helping your patients support their brain health is to address their underlying health conditions. 

Make a plan to address cardiometabolic disorders

It’s estimated that 47 million people in the U.S. are living with cardiometabolic disorders, which can develop into chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Cardiometabolic disorders can develop from interrelated risks factors, including:

  • Hypertension 
  • Elevated fasting blood sugar 
  • High cholesterol
  • Excess abdominal weight 
  • Elevated triglycerides

Both Type I and Type II Diabetes have been linked to reduced cognitive function. 

Another study found that high blood pressure, even when controlled with medication, may increase risk of early cognitive decline. 

Have patients optimize their sleep

Having a good night of sleep is key to optimal physical performance. And it is also essential for reducing risk of cognitive decline.

A study conducted by the University of Rochester found that deep, restful sleep allows the brain’s waste removal system to clear away toxins that are responsible for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.

But many people are chronically sleep deprived. According to the CDC, about 35% of Americans get less than 7 hours per night of rest.

Patients can improve their sleep hygiene by keeping a regular sleep schedule, reducing caffeine, and turning off electronic devices at least 1-2 hours before bed to reduce exposure to blue light.

Get patients to engage with brain-stimulating activities

As it turns out, reading is fundamental at any age. And adult brains can develop more than what science used to believe. 

Researchers recruited a group of illiterate adult women from Northern India and taught them to read. In before-and-after brain scans, researchers were surprised to find that deep structures in the brain had significant changes and development after the women became literate. 

Playing a musical instrument is another fun pastime that can help patients support their brain health.

Playing music can stimulates the growth of neural pathways, and it may also help protect from age-related degeneration. Studies have found that older, practicing musicians have greater gray matter and more total brain volume than non-musicians.

Encourage patients to increase exercise

Physical exercise has shown to improve the structure and function of the brain, as well as protect from cognitive decline. Regular exercise may also have emotional benefits, such as increasing confidence and reducing depression or anxiety. 

It doesn’t matter if your patients prefer meditative movement like yoga or high-intensity interval training – all forms of exercise can provide cognitive benefits. A review of fitness studies found that moderate-intensity exercise can improve the performance of working memory and high-intensity can improve the speed of processing. 

Do your patients prefer more extreme sports? Make sure to remind them to wear a helmet. 

Concussions were once thought to heal on their own within three months. But a review of cognitive impairment studies found that 50% of concussions resulted in long-term cognitive impairment

Support patients with a done-for-you nutrition plan

Well World has several done-for-you nutrition plans that can help address chronic conditions: 

  • Low Sugar Vegetarian Challenge: A 28-day low-glycemic meal plan for patients who are pre-diabetic, have Type II diabetes, inflammatory issues, or who want to reduce their sugar intake. 
  • IF + Cardiometabolic: An intermittent fasting and cardiometabolic plan that includes healthy fat and no added salt. This program can be used by patients with hypertension or high cholesterol, and it is an excellent diet for use with Designs for Health HTN Supreme™ .

Recommend brain supportive protocols 

Designs for Health has several protocols that can help your patients with healthier cognitive function:

  • Brain Vitale™ contains a comprehensive array of brain-supportive nutrients, including acetyl-l-carnitine, glycerophosphocholine (GPC), phosphatidylserine, Ginkgo biloba (standardized to contain 24% ginkgoflavonglycosides), and citicoline. Also included is a unique coffee fruit concentrate extracted from the whole coffee cherry, with several distinctive compounds not found in coffee beans themselves. 
  • Omegatropic™ is a unique omega-3 formulation, combining a 1:1 ratio of EPA/DHA, along with glycerophosphocholine (GPC) in order to provide comprehensive support for healthy brain function. The fish oils in this product are in the triglyceride (TG) form – the form found in nature – for superior absorption and bioavailability.
  • CogniAid™ is an herbal formula designed to help support healthy cognition, mood and memory.** It contains a wildcrafted blueberry complex, which in addition to blueberries, uses extracts of huckleberries and bilberries. This product also features vinpocetine, huperzine-A (a naturally occurring alkaloid compound), the green tea polyphenol EGCg, and the Ayurvedic herb Bacopa monnieri. 

While cognitive disorders may be on the rise, there are plenty of brain-supportive protocols that can support patients. Starting them early in preventative practices could be the key to reversing their risk.