BRIGHT MINDS—Proven Ways to Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s

Memories make up the fabric of our lives. When memory problems occur, it’s like losing important pieces of ourselves, and it can impair every aspect of our lives. No problem is more closely associated with memory loss than Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most feared and devastating illnesses of all. Over 6 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to triple in the next 30 years, and there is no cure on the horizon.

Brain imaging research, including a study in Neurodegenerative Disease, shows that changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s begin decades before symptoms appear. The best way to sharpen your memory, reverse brain aging, and prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia is to eliminate, prevent, or treat all of the risk factors that steal your mind. The mnemonic BRIGHT MINDS will help you remember the 11 major risk factors for memory loss, including Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

11 MAJOR RISK FACTORS FOR MEMORY LOSS

B is for blood flow.

Blood flow is critical for brain health. Surprisingly, the blood vessels that feed our brain cells age faster than those neurons, so keeping your brain healthy means taking care of your blood vessels. A history of hypertension, heart disease, stroke, or a lack of physical exercise are risk factors for blood flow problems.

R is for retirement and aging.

When you stop learning your brain starts dying. Your brain is like a muscle—the more you use it, the more you can use. Advancing age is the single most important risk for memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. A lack of new learning, social isolation, and loneliness increase the risk of memory problems.

I is for inflammation.

Chronic inflammation harms your organs and can destroy your brain. Eating a diet of fast foods and processed foods is pro-inflammatory. Having low omega-3 levels or high C-reactive protein levels in the blood are indicators of high inflammation.

G is for genetics.

Having a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia increases your risk. However, a genetic vulnerability is not a death sentence. It should be a wake-up call.

H is for head trauma.

Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries—even head injuries without a loss of consciousness—are major risk factors for memory problems. Having multiple head injuries increases your risk.

T is for toxins.

Exposure to environmental toxins has been linked to health problems ranging from allergies and cancer to autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases. Alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs prematurely age the brain, as do other toxins such as mold.  That’s because our bodies’ detoxification systems (the gut, liver, kidneys, and skin), can become overwhelmed, damaging the brain, and increasing the risk of memory problems and dementia.

M is for mental health. 

The health of your mind is an essential factor in the health of your memory. Mental health issues including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADD/ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic stress can all contribute to a higher risk of memory problems.

I is for immune system problems and infections.

When your immune system isn’t functioning optimally, you may be more vulnerable to autoimmune disorders and infections (such as COVID-19), which can increase your risk of brain fog and memory issues.

N is for neurohormone issues.

The brain plays an important role in hormone production and is significantly influenced by hormones from other areas of the body. When hormone levels (such as thyroid, testosterone, or estrogen) are out of balance, you may be more prone to Alzheimer’s disease, as well as depression, diabetes, and other illnesses.

D is for diabesity.

The word “diabesity” combines diabetes and obesity, both of which decrease the size and function of your brain. Diabetes damages blood vessels and eventually creates havoc throughout the body and brain, leading to Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, stroke, hypertension, and more. Research in the journal Neurology shows that being overweight or obese in midlife is also associated with dementia later in life.

S is for sleep.

Decades of research have linked sleep problems, such as insomnia and sleep apnea, to a higher risk of memory problems and dementia. A 2021 study in Nature Communications found that people in their 50s and 60s who sleep less than 6 hours per night are more likely to develop dementia later in life.

PROVEN STRATEGIES TO REDUCE THE RISK FOR ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA

The good news is that almost all of these risk factors are either preventable or treatable. Here are science-backed strategies to address the 11 major risk factors for memory loss.

Blood flow strategies:

Exercise for 30 minutes a day, eat foods that boost blood flow (such as beets and cayenne pepper), and take nutritional supplements such as ginkgo biloba.

Retirement and aging strategies:

Make new learning part of your everyday life no matter how old you are.

Inflammation strategies:

Eat an anti-inflammatory diet, increase your intake of dietary omega-3 fatty acids with fatty fish (such as salmon or anchovies), and take supplements (such as fish oil, probiotics, and curcumins).

Genetics strategies:

If you have a family history of dementia, it is critical to be serious about brain health as soon as possible. Get screened early for memory problems.

Head trauma strategies:

Heal the brain from past head injuries with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and protect your head from future injuries. Wear a helmet when biking or skiing, refrain from contact sports, wear your seat belt, avoid climbing ladders, hold handrails when going down the stairs, and never text while walking or driving.

Toxin strategies:

Avoid toxic exposure and support the 4 organs of detoxification:

  • Kidneys – drink more water
  • Gut – eat more fiber and choose organic foods
  • Liver – quit smoking and drugs, limit alcohol, eat brassicas (such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts)
  • Skin – sweat with exercise and take saunas

Mental health strategies: 

Adopt brain-healthy habits, including daily physical activity and good nutrition. In addition, learn to eliminate your automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) and seek professional help to treat any mental health issues.

Immune system problems and infections strategies:

Boost your vitamin D intake and eat onions, mushrooms, and garlic. If you suspect a lingering infection, such as long COVID or Lyme disease, work with an integrative or functional medicine doctor who can properly diagnose and treat you.

Neurohormone strategies:

Have your healthcare provider test your hormone levels and optimize them if necessary.

Diabesity strategies:

Eat a brain-healthy diet, eliminate sugar, and be calorie-smart.

Sleep strategies:

Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and develop a nightly routine that promotes relaxation. Consider supplements, such as GABA, 5-HTP, melatonin, and l-theanine. If you snore, get an evaluation for sleep apnea and treat it if necessary.

Memory problems and other cognitive and mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer a comprehensive Memory Rescue Program, in-clinic brain scanning, and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

14 Comments »

  1. Excellent review of the complex biochemistry of humans.
    Follow these recommendations.

    Comment by Kevin — April 11, 2022 @ 3:31 AM

  2. Where can I get your oral supplements ?

    Comment by Gail Mattingly — April 11, 2022 @ 3:53 AM

  3. Thank you for these suggestions. I will add a few things that we have been missing. You recommended CoQ-10 a few months ago and it’s really made a difference. My husband says I’m not repeating myself anymore so that’s thrilling to me. Thank you, Dr. Amen. Thank you.

    Comment by Michele — April 11, 2022 @ 4:33 AM

  4. Great information to review!

    Comment by Linda — April 11, 2022 @ 4:55 AM

  5. I am a 92 year old women (93 in May) and I was ask yesterday when I was married. I could not remember. I knew I was married 71 years, however my husband died 2 years ago. I live alone and have bad knees and use a walker around the house. So far have had no help. I am happy and make hats and pot holders that are sent to Haiti. Make cards for my church and 2nd chance here in Washington. Watch the Hallmark Chanel and do my own cooking and cleaning which is very little but it looks nice. Can’t reach high to get some of the dust. Can’t climb stairs so the upstairs doesn’t get done. I just don’t want to loose my mind and it bothered me that I didn’t remember when I got married.

    Comment by Roberta Hedges — April 11, 2022 @ 5:20 AM

  6. Your bright minds list to reduce alzheimers risk is very frightening as my mother and her sibling have some form of alzheimers or dementia. Please help me asses my brain so I can avoid this life sentence.

    Comment by Sylvia Kropilak — April 11, 2022 @ 6:03 AM

  7. I wanted to thank you for uncomplicated common sense and very specific advice on this matter. I appreciate the simplicity of your advice and the way you break things down. We all have choices everyday of what to put in our bodies, and you have affirmed that those choices add up and it is the little things that count!

    Comment by Lalena Christopherson — April 11, 2022 @ 7:56 AM

  8. Thanks a bunch…….information is very helpful and presented well….

    Comment by Brenda — April 11, 2022 @ 8:07 AM

  9. You talk about toxins. Is fluoride considered a neurotoxin and should we opt for alternatives?

    Comment by Roger — April 11, 2022 @ 11:57 AM

  10. I’m an eighty six year old man trying to maintain my physical and mental health, and by reading this article has made me aware of the many areas of concerns there are to achieving this goal. I would certainly appreciate more involved information on this subject.

    Comment by RAchford H Mauney — April 11, 2022 @ 1:24 PM

  11. Hello Sylvia, thank you for your comment. For more information about Amen Clinics BRIGHT MINDS approach to memory, please contact our Care Coordinators: https://amenclinics.com/schedule-visit/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — April 11, 2022 @ 6:45 PM

  12. Hello Gail, thank you for reaching out. For more information about Dr. Daniel Amen’s recommended brain-directed supplements, visit https://brainmd.com/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — April 11, 2022 @ 6:48 PM

  13. I have mold in my apartment and no matter how much I clean it, the mold reappears. The landlord won’t do anything about the source. I am certain that the mold is also affecting my cognitive abilities. Yet, my poor cognitive abilities and depression prevent me from working, so I am stuck in this apartment.

    Comment by Margaret — April 15, 2022 @ 8:24 AM

  14. Great info. Thanks for sharing. I noticed noone replied to Roberta Hedges (4-11-22 comment). I’d just like to compliment her on all the activities she’s engaged in at the age of 92 (making hats and potholders that are sent to Haiti, making cards for her church, doing her own cooking and cleaning). Based on the info she gave (married for 71 years and husband died two years ago) Roberta must have gotten married 73 years ago, in 1949. Hope that rings a bell, Roberta. Keep watching Hallmark channel. I watch it too and suspect that those feel good stories are good for the brain. And Happy 93rd Birthday (sometime in May)!

    Comment by Sheila — May 23, 2022 @ 8:28 AM

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