Unlock The Secrets To A Sharp Mind
Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D.
On New Year’s Day I was sitting in my office catching up on the latest health headlines. The first article I read made me pause and give thanks. It noted that rates of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are actually decreasing—a fantastic report to this doctor, who has spent a lifetime working to put an end to this epidemic. And although the next article could be taken as bad news, that a recent AD drug trial was a flop, it made me give thanks, too. Thanks that folks, including the conventional medical world, may be ready to pay more attention to the advice we’ve been giving at the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation (ARPF) for two decades: Prudent lifestyle changes, not pills, are the keys to preventing and reversing AD.
I wasn’t surprised to read that the drug Solanezumab didn’t pass muster. After all, the success rate for dementia drugs has been described as “abysmally low” in the medical community. Again, I’m heartened that, despite this fact, rates of the disease are dropping, suggesting that lifestyle interventions can and do work, and that now—perhaps more than ever, as the population continues to age and live longer than previous generations—is the time for our “alternative” non-pharma prescription to become mainstream.
With the new administration aiming to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and possibly reducing or eliminating Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, older Americans will need to become much more responsible for their own well-being. The 4 Pillars of Alzheirmer’s Prevention can help them do this.
ARPF’s 4 Pillars of Alzheimer’s Prevention™
1. Diet/Supplements: A Mediterranean-type diet, low in saturated fats found in red meat and high in omega-3 fats found in oily fish like salmon, combined with olive oil, nuts and plenty of fresh organic vegetables (plus a bit of fruit), is the most scientifically-proven way to eat to prevent AD. Additional studies on Americanized variations of this diet, such as the MIND and DASH diets, are also proven to decrease Alzheimer’s risk. But along with making the dietary changes recommended by these plans, the ARPF also believes that supplementing the diet is critical for brain longevity. We recommend a regimen of a high-potency multi-vitamin/mineral tablet, vitamin C, turmeric, ginkgo, huperzine- A, vinpocentine, alpha-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q 10 and resveratrol.
2. Yoga and Meditation: Stress is a huge risk factor for developing AD. Our published research over the past 13 years, in partnership with leading medical schools, has revealed that a simple, 12-minute yoga/meditation technique called Kirtan Kriya can have significant brain-boosting benefits. Our studies using Kirtan Kriya have shown stress reduction, memory loss reversal, better sleep, less depression and anxiety, a reduction in inflammatory genes, and a 43 percent increase in telomerase, the protective cap of DNA, the highest ever recorded. Not only is this method extremely effective; it is also completely safe, fast and affordable.
3. Exercise: When it comes to AD prevention, current wisdom recommends 150 minutes a week of mixed cardio—and strength training. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, augments crucial brain biochemical compounds such as Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and, perhaps most significantly, causes neurogenesis, or the growth of new brain cells. Additionally, keeping your mind active is an important aspect of AD prevention.
4. Spiritual Fitness™ (SF): Maintaining a spiritual connection is an important aspect of successful aging and AD prevention. SF combines traditional aspects of psychological well-being, such as acceptance, self-confidence, independence, personal growth and aging with purpose—all of which are associated with Alzheimer’s risk reduction. At the APRF, we especially encourage practicing the following: patience, which allows you to slow down and enjoy life; awareness, which helps you maintain your connection to the infinite; compassion, living with kindness; and surrender to your higher power, which leads to service and socialization. Together, these practices and lifestyle choices bring the inner peace, balance and well-being so often lacking in today’s hyper-connected, turbulent world.
Although I’m thankful that the tides seem to be turning to our new “prescription” for Alzheimer’s prevention, there’s still much I wish would change. For example, I would like to see even just a small fraction of the close to $1 billion that has gone towards failed drug studies go instead to research on lifestyle interventions and the Four Pillars of Alzheimer’s Prevention. But until then, I urge you to begin the ARPF’s 4 Pillar Program today by visiting www.alzheimersprevention.org, where you can join our community and also discover our new training and certification program in Brain Longevity®.
Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., is president/medical director of the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation (www.alzheimersprevention.org) and clinical associate professor of the Department of General Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, and Integrative Medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, and associate editor of The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. www.drdharma.com