“Where Did I Put My Keys?”
The next question could easily have been “Why did I just walk into this room?”
For many people as they age, one of the most feared health concerns is loss of memory leading to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. While it is not a major problem to occasionally forget where you last put down your keys, it can be part of early signs of true memory loss.
The first question I ask patients when they present with complaints of memory issues is “Are you taking any statin (cholesterol lowering) medications?” Very often the answer is yes, and that opens up a whole new avenue to consider when evaluating memory loss. Make no mistake about it, statin drugs do lower cholesterol, they do it very well. The problem is that in lowering your serum cholesterol level they also can have a dramatic affect on your brain cholesterol levels and many other side effects.
Cholesterol is an important part of every cell in your body. In particular the brain it is estimated is 75-80% fat by dry weight. 50% of the fat content in your brain is saturated fat. Yes, saturated fat! I know for 40+ years now doctors (not me) have told their patient to eat a low-fat, no-fat diet, and people listened. Unfortunately, they substituted carbohydrates for the fat and all it has done is create a generation or two of obese, diabetic, heart disease patients. That is in part why Type II diabetes is in epidemic proportions and now we are seeing an epidemic of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
25% of the brain fat is cholesterol and that is where the problem starts to arise with memory, focus and concentration issues that are literally skyrocketing as health problems. Cholesterol and healthy fats are a vitally important part of proper brain and nervous system function. Statin usage has been shown to have often dramatically negative effects on memory as well as anxiety and depression. I won’t go into a full explanation of the hidden dangers of statin drugs right now, that is for another discussion, but it is a factor that should be considered whenever the issue of memory loss comes up.
There are of course other issues that need to be discussed in relation to memory and brain health. Primary among these are the proper amount and utilization of healthy fats and fatty acids. Your brain functions much better and is happier if you are burning fat, and making ketones for brain fuel. Fatty acids really determine if there is inflammation throughout your nervous system and brain. Chronic inflammation is a driving force behind all chronic degenerative diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and dementia. Proper fatty acid balance also helps your body to repair nerve cells, is vitally important for cell to cell signaling (so nerves can communicate with each other), they improve mood, memory, focus and concentration and they are important to reduce pain and inflammation.
One of the ways we use to determine fatty acid balance in the form of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats is to utilize the Brain Span Test TM. This is a simple finger stick blood test along with fun computer games. The Brain Span Test TM is not used to diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. However, with this test we can establish a baseline evaluation to see if your Omega 3 Index (a biomarker of 2 important healthy fats, EPA and DHA), Inflammation Index (balance of Omega 6 to Omega 3) and Palmitic Acid Index (a blood cell biomarker of excessive dietary carbohydrates), along with tests to determine your Sustained Attention, Memory Capacity, Processing Speed, and Cognitive Flexibility are properly balanced or if there is need for improvement in relation to memory concerns.
If you are at all concerned with memory loss in yourself, spouse of a loved one please give our office a call for a consultation. Not all memory loss is Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. The are many natural, holistic approaches to reverse memory loss.
Natural Medicine Institute, 352-801-0021