Dementia is a mental condition in which a person experiences memory loss and other cognitive impairments. It can cause communication problems, mood swings, depression, pain and other distressing physical symptoms. Dementia is caused by brain damage, which can be related to certain illnesses and diseases or happen naturally with age.
Unfortunately, dementia is on the rise. Consider this: In Canada, almost 80,000 new cases of dementia are diagnosed every year for those who are over the age of 65. Every hour, 9 older adults are diagnosed with dementia. Beyond that, family and friends spend an average of 26 hours every week helping a loved one with dementia.
Knowing that dementia rates are increasing, is there anything we can do to prevent or slow its progression?
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a group of progressive symptoms that include memory loss and the inability to think clearly or perform basic motor functions. It’s also referred to as senility. While dementia can be caused by brain damage related to certain illnesses and diseases, it can also happen naturally with age, and it’s all too common in today’s society, affecting about 11% of adults over 65 years old.
Dementia can cause a wide range of symptoms, including confusion and memory loss, difficulty thinking, personality changes and mood swings. It can also cause depression, anxiety and pain. The symptoms of dementia include:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Disorientation in time or place (for example, not knowing what season it is, where you are, or even where your car keys are)
- Challenges with problem-solving or planning ahead
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships (such as when reading maps)
What Causes Dementia?
Dementia comes in different forms, including vascular dementia (due to stroke or brain injury), Lewy body dementia (due to abnormal growth of proteins in the brain), and frontotemporal dementia (brain shrinkage in the frontal lobe). Most people who develop dementia are over 65 years old, but it’s possible to get it at a younger age. Although there is currently no cure for dementia, several ways have been discovered that may help slow its progression.
Can Dementia Be Prevented?
You might be wondering, “Can you prevent dementia?” Well, the short answer is yes. But there’s more to it than simply eating your vegetables and exercising (although you should do both). Dementia is caused by brain damage—which can be related to certain illnesses and diseases or happen naturally with age.
Brain damage occurs when inflammation in the brain increases and oxidative stress overwhelms the body’s ability to heal itself. The link between dementia and inflammation has been well studied, but less attention has been paid to how oxidative stress can lead to cognitive decline.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take today that will help reduce inflammation in your body, and with it, helps keep your mind sharp in old age.
Who Does Dementia Affect?
Most people who develop dementia are over 65, but it’s possible to get it at a younger age. It’s important to know that dementia is most common in older people, but it can happen at any age. There are many different types of dementia; some develop slowly and may be more common in younger people, while others can affect older adults more quickly.
Supplements to Support Brain Health
Ginkgo is a natural stress reliever and memory enhancer, plus, studies show that ginkgo provides benefits for seniors and those with Alzheimer’s Disease–all due to its ability to stimulate blood flow in the brain. In one study, participants showed improvement in working memory after taking ginkgo biloba extract for 14 days. In another study, ginkgo biloba was shown to improve cognitive function in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease. A separate study showed that taking a combination of ginkgo biloba, polyunsaturated fatty acids and lycopene resulted in an improvement in cognitive function in adults over the age of 65. A popular ginkgo supplement is Ginkgo Biloba Phytosome by Natural Factors. This formulation is pure and potent and Natural Factors is trusted by many.
Vitamin B 12
There are many neurotransmitters in the brain and vitamin B-12 is essential for their production. Any kind of deficiency in this nutrient can cause cognitive decline. If you’ve been experiencing brain fog, are more tired than usual, memory issues or are over the age of 40 (it gets harder to synthesize B-12 the older you get), then supplementing with b-12 may be right for you.There are a few forms of B-12; therefore, shopping for a supplement can be challenging. Methylcobalamin is the superior choice and B-12 Methylcobalamin 1,000mcg by Natural Factors is a highly bioavailable supplement that dissolves quickly.
Phosphatidylserine is a neurotransmitter that can improve memory, concentration and mood as well as reduce stress and anxiety. Phosphatidylserine may also help with other aspects of brain health, including reducing the effects of aging on the brain, including memory problems, difficulty concentrating and mood swings. In a double-blind, randomized controlled study, phosphatidylserine at doses of 100 mg to 300 mg/day was shown to improve memory function in Japanese seniors complaining about memory loss over a placebo. Part of the mechanism behind this could be attributed to PS’s ability to increase delayed verbal recall, which occurs in early dementia. Animal studies have also shown that phosphatidylserine can improve memory function. Finding a quality Phosphatidylserine supplement is the most important factor so you can reap all its benefits. Phosphatidyl Serine by Now provides 100mg of PS per dose and it’s vegan-friendly because it’s made from soy lecithin.
Lion’s mane offers properties that can cross the blood-brain barrier, making it an exceptional supplement for cognition. It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects which is important for cognitive illnesses. Lion’s mane can also promote neural growth in the brain, which may help repair damaged neurons and improve memory function.
Studies suggest that lion’s mane mushroom contains compounds that can help slow aging in the brain. With other research speculating that lion’s mane could help to even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. This may be due to its ability to help regulate neurotransmitters in the brain. Researchers in Japan conducted a double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial of 50 to 80-year-old Japanese people with mild cognitive impairment. The group taking lion’s mane showed increased scores on the cognitive function scale and the researchers concluded that lion’s mane is effective in improving mild cognitive impairment. Finding a pure lion’s mane supplement is the key to it providing maximum benefits. Lion’s Mane Powder by Purica is a micronized and organic formula that’s high-quality and Canadian-made.
DHA, a key fatty acid found in fish oil, is responsible for the structure and function of your brain. It may play a role in the growth of new nerve cells and perhaps even help prevent some forms of dementia. When plasma DHA levels are too low, there is an increased risk of cognitive decline, whereas a high intake of DHA is associated with a lowered risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. In a randomized controlled trial, subjects with age-related cognitive decline, daily supplementation of 900 milligrams per day was beneficial for memory scores. Researchers concluded that DHA is supportive of cognitive health. Look for a quality brand when shopping for natural health supplements, including DHA. DHA by Flora is an algae-derived formulation that’s free from contaminants and pure. Flora is a trusted brand known for making quality natural health products.
Tyrosine is one of the best nootropics for supporting cognitive functioning. Animal studies have concluded that tyrosine has therapeutic effects during stress. In one major review of the literature, tyrosine was shown to support cognitive performance in demanding situations. Tyrosine is a building block of neurotransmitters and has been linked to support a balanced mood. When supplementing with tyrosine, look for one from a trusted brand like Natural Factors. L-Tyrosine by Natural Factors is a free-form amino acid that is favoured by many. Natural Factors also has a reputation for high-quality, Canadian- made supplements that are potent and pure.
Diet and Lifestyle Habits to Prevent the Onset of Dementia
Although there is currently no cure for dementia, several ways have been discovered that may help slow its progression. One way to slow the progression of dementia is by taking part in exercise. Another way is by following a healthy diet. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains may help protect the brain from dementia, as well as other diseases. Foods that contain antioxidants, such as fish, nuts and seeds (especially walnuts) are also good for your brain. Antioxidants can help your body fight off free radicals which are harmful compounds produced when you burn fat or digest food.
While there’s no guarantee that you can prevent dementia, there are several ways to reduce your risk of developing it.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.