Remembering


The Psychology Dictionary states the remembering is “to recall with effort or think of again… Spontaneously recalling information stored in the memory.” [1] Recalling memories is an important aspect of your mental health.  In Alzheimer’s, recalling memories becomes increasing more difficult as the disease progresses.  Initially, an Alzheimer’s patient loses short-term memory recall, those day-to-day memories.  However, these same individuals can usually vividly recall long-term memories.  When Glen Campbell and his family decided to share his struggles and journey with Alzheimer’s, he clearly revealed how ingrained long-term memories and skills hang on much longer as the disease erodes other aspects of the patient.  Campbell could play his songs on his guitar, but forget the words of songs he knew well.  Take a moment this week to check out “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” on Netflix, iTunes or purchase it on Amazon.  Here’s the link for the trailer: “I’ll Be Me.”

Alzheimer’s Disease is very real for me.  My mom has it and her mother had it.  I have watched two generations of my family struggle with the disease.  When my grandmother was struggling with Alzheimer’s, it didn’t label seniors with memory issues, unlike today.  Back then, Grandma couldn’t remember and became easily disoriented.  However, she lived on her own until her last days.  Fastforward to today, my mom’s poor memory recall became a cause for concern several years ago and a trip to the doctor for confirmation.  The doctor agreed she was suffering from dementia.  Then when 23andme found the damming ApoE4 gene in my coding — well, we all knew Mom had Alzheimer’s.  It’s true that just because you carry a SNP doesn’t mean the gene will be expressed.  But in my mom’s case, it is definitely being expressed.

Remembering is part of what makes you, well, you. 

Remembering is part of what makes you, well, you.  Remembering is that skill that many of us take for granted and assume we will always be able to do so.  I know that when I suffered from brain fog or menopause brain as some call it I became scared that I might have something more.  Brain fog or poor memory recall in mid-life is usually from inflammation in the brain rather than early-onset Alzheimer’s.  In my case, it was inflammation from many foods I was eating.  With some major adjustments to my diet and lifestyle, I was able to reduce the inflammation and have regained memory retention and recall.   Symptoms are your body talking to you and well, I ignored the constant headaches that often became migraines.  Today when I mis-step with my food choices, I get a headache.  I know I have caused inflammation of the brain and must take action to make changes.

Brain Fog

First off, brain fog is NOT normal!  I thought brain fog was part of getting older until I sought out help from a naturopath for something different.  Unfortunately, brain fog is not a medically recognized condition. It is a commonly used expression that can be summarized as feelings of confusion, forgetfulness, and a lack of focus and mental clarity.  Yep, that’s what I felt.

Brain fog can be caused by lifestyle factors like diet, stress, or lack of sleep and exercise or by an underlying health condition or as a side effect of a medication.  Deane Alban succinctly summarizes some causes in her article, “Brain Fog: Causes, Symptoms, Solutions” [2]:

  • Eating the wrong foods
  • Nutritional deficiencies 
  • Lack of quality sleep
  • Chronic stress
  • Underlying health conditions like cancer, lupus, fibromyalgia, or thyroid dysfunction
  • Prescription or Over-the-Counter Medication Interactions

Regardless of the underlying cause for your brain fog, be proactive about incorporating a brain-healthy lifestyle and managing your health and medications.  After all, health is the greatest gift you have, so enjoy it, don’t abuse it.

Book Reviews on Alzheimer’s

With my family’s history with Alzheimer’s, I’ve been researching and reading a lot!  I have been following Dr Dale Bredesen’s work since he first published his initial research on reversing Alzheimer’s in 2014. [3]  With Alzheimer’s being openly discussed and mainstream as mental health is explored, many books are available to educate.  One of the first books was by Dr May Newport, author of Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was A Cure?, who suggested that coconut oil added to the diet could make a difference.  She was intimately aware of Alzheimer’s as her husband was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.  She had found in research that a medical food also known today as MCTs (medium-chain fatty acids/triglycerides) could act like an alternative fuel in the Alzheimer’s brain.  

Both Dale Bredesen’s book, The End of Alzheimer’s, and Amy Berger’s book, The Alzheimer’s Antidote, were published in 2017. Both books explore ketones as an alternate fuel for the Alzheimer’s brain.  Both authors offer the benefits of the low-carb, high fat diet as a way of fighting Alzheimer’s, memory loss and cognitive decline.  However, they don’t stop at just dietary interventions.  Bredesen has created a fleshed out program to prevent and reverse cognitive decline.    Furthermore, Bredesen explores the 36 metabolic imbalances that can trigger “downsizing” in the brain.  It is true that you may find the chapters on the heavy science research bog you down, but it’s okay to skip them and get to the meat of the book, which is his ReCODE (Reversing COgnitive DEcline)  protocol.  He suggests rebalancing the 36 mechanisms by adjusting lifestyle factors such as micronutrients, hormone levels, stress and quality of sleep.  Dietarily, Bredesen writes about autophagy and nutritional ketosis.  I know, another person discussing the ketogenic diet. But wait, he says “mild ketosis, it turns out, is optimal for cognitive function…” [4]  He calls his Anti-Alzheimer’s Diet, Ketoflex 12/3.  Keto referring to ketosis.  Flex refers to flexitarian diet, which means a heavy emphasis on non-starchy vegetables, and meat as a condiment. [5]  The 12/3 part is about fasting times.  Fasting is effective in producing nutritional ketosis, which improves insulin sensitivity and enhances cognition. That would mean fasting for a minimum of 12 hours (14 to 16 hours if you carry ApoE4 gene).[6]  Then a minimum of 3 hours between meals.  That’s right, no snacking!  It would be back to 3 meals per day.  

Okay, what is autophagy?  Autophagy is promoted by fasting, “in which cells (including those in the brain) recycle components and destroy damaged proteins and mitochondria–which is good for renewal.” [7]  Personally, I believe you will be hearing more about autophagy and mitochondria in the months and years ahead.  By the way, mitochondria are your cells’ powerhouse for energy and allows the cells to carry out various functions.

Amy Berger’s book also suggests a revolutionary approach that  includes nutrition and lifestyle interventions. Berger’s research demonstrates that cognitive decline is a result of a fuel shortage in the brain. [8]  This fuel shortage is referring to the brain’s inability to use glucose as energy and may be why Alzheimer’s is often referred to as Type III Diabetes in recent literature and research.  Since most (if not all) Alzheimer’s medications currently available usually don’t work — case in point, my mom has been on four different ones without any improvement or change in her cognitive decline — having a natural nutritional approach is refreshing.  Like Bredesen’s book, Berger also has a science-y part, ‘The Metabolic Origins of Alzheimer’s Disease.”  Yes, I read the whole section, but I enjoy the scientific support and research.  The second part of her book explores nutritional strategies like incorporating a low carb, moderate protein  and higher fat diet.  The third sections delves into lifestyle factors like exercise (yes, you have to move your body), sleep and intermittent fasting.  She ends with a section on going beyond diet and lifestyle.  

Both Bredesen and Berger support a ketogenic-style dietary plan, intermittent fasting, good sleep, and exercise.   Even if you don’t have Alzheimer’s in your family, cognitive function can be improved in all of us.  So I am adding keto (low carb, moderate protein, and flexible fat intake), fasting, a healthy sleep routine and daily body movement (aka exercise) to my healthy approach to life.  It certainly won’t hurt me.

Suffering Poor Memory Recall — It’s Time to Take Action!

If you are a pre- or post-menopausal female, it is likely you’ve experience brain fog at some point in your journey.  Remember, it is not normal to have brain fog or memory issues.  It is likely hinging on some lifestyle choice or food that needs to be altered or changed.  Make a decision to figure out what the root of your memory dysfunction is and make changes.

If your symptoms are caused by food or some lifestyle choice, I may be able to assist and support  you in making some necessary changes.  I’ve lived through it and it can be reversed.  It will take diligence and perseverance to figure it out and make changes, but it can be done.

Check out my social media pages for brain-supportive food recipes and ideas.

Reach out to Brenda by phone at 403.801.5698 or email to arrange your FREE Discovery Chat to take action now.  I’m waiting to be your cheerleader and coach on your journey to a vibrant and energy-filled life.


Resources

[1] Pam Nugent M.S., “What is REMEMBERING? definition of REMEMBERING,” Psychology Dictionary, April 28, 2013  online.

[2] Deane Alban,  ‘Brain Fog: Causes, Symptoms, Solutions,” Be Brain Fit, online.

[3] Dale Bredesen, “Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program,” Aging (Albany NY). 2014 Sep; 6(9): 707–717, 27 Sep 2014 online

[4] Dale E. Bredesen, MD, The End of Alzheimer’s, (New York: Avery, 2017) p 179.

[5] Bredesen, 180.

[6] Bredesen, 181.

[7] Bredesen, 182.

[8] Amy Berger, MS CNS NTP, The Alzheimer’s Antidote, (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2017), back cover.

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About Brenda

As a nutrition consultant and educator, I aim to support you in achieving health and vitality through natural wholesome foods and lifestyle transformation. Ready to change yourself from the inside out? Then contact Brenda today -- hello@wattworksnutrition.ca