Cognitive decline – dementia – Alzheimer’s disease – senility – to lose our independence, our memories, our minds – our “selves.” This is one of our greatest nightmares. But, what if this precipice – the thing people seem to fear worse than death – is almost entirely avoidable by changing how we live?
The Alzheimer’s Solution: by Dean Sherzai, MD, PhD and Ayesha Sherzai, MD (2017) asserts that this is indeed the case. You won’t find wishes, a few convenient anecdotes and flimsy, recent research. The doctors Sherzai tie together decades of substantive research from multiple, credible sources (including ongoing Blue Zones research) and their own research and medical practice. The result of this work: a straightforward and remarkably simple (albeit not easy) recipe for long, healthy mental functioning.
Unfortunately, it requires that we do stuff. Differently. In a lot of cases, way, way differently.
Here’s a synopsis:
They use the helpful and appropriate acronym NEURO: Nutrition, Exercise, Unwind, Restore, Optimize
Nutrition: quite specific nutritional guidance – recommending a largely vegetarian diet high in specific types of nutrients.
Exercise: not just a regular appointment at the running path or the gym, the research emphasizes activity throughout the day on a frequent basis.
Unwind: Managing stress healthfully and living with purpose.
Restore: Enough good quality sleep (this is a tough one for me). There is no substitute for sufficient sleep in terms of long-term brain health
Optimize: a lifetime process, and never too late to start: complex, creative, learning and doing. While the puzzles we encourage elders to do to keep their minds nimble are a small part, greater benefit comes from ongoing learning, complex tasks, mentoring/teaching and other activities that use multiple skills.
The book, published this past summer, includes interesting case studies, questionnaires and specific recommendations to make changes as needed on a case-by-case study. It’s helpful to remember that, all over the world, there are “Blue Zone” communities – places where most people live long, robust lives free of chronic diseases and dementia – where these lifestyle choices are just “normal,” not sacrifices. At least, I tell myself it’s helpful.
My challenge, which I share and dare towards you: do some investigating on this. If you’re intrepid – seek your physician’s guidance and take it from there. If you’re a little timid, hesitant or just plain skeptical, pick one piece that’s easy to do, get the medical OK, and go for it.
Dr. Lori Puterbaugh, LMHC, LMFT, NCC
Posts are for entertainment and not meant to be construed as treatment or professional recommendations. If you need mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.