By: Terri Suresh-DeNeui
September is World Alzheimer’s Month as well as National Healthy Aging Month. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease affect more than five million Americans 65 and older. It’s heart breaking to watch a loved one with the disease but there is new hope.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, a new 10-year study showed that speed training – computer exercises that get users to visually process information more quickly – beat memory and reasoning exercises, the two other popular brain training techniques.
Researchers found that a total of 11 to 14 hours of speed training has the potential to cut by as much as 48 percent the risk of developing dementia 10 years later.
The results of this study, entitled “Advanced Cognitive Training in Vital Elderly (ACTIVE)” were presented to the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, held in July 2016.
There are many different theories about the causes of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Gerontologists and neurologists have speculated about the factors which can exacerbate dementia for many years, but we really don’t understand the cause of this deterioration of the brain’s function.
There is one key factor that consistently appears in the studies revealing the brain’s deterioration dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Imbalanced hormones. Recent research suggests that men with low testosterone are three times more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease while women with low testosterone and estrogen are 50 percent more likely to develop these conditions.
The Importance of Testosterone for Brain Health
A woman’s primary hormone is estrogen and her secondary hormone is testosterone. With men, it is the reverse. Thus, both genders require testosterone in order to remain healthy. This fact is important for the study of dementia because there are literally thousands of receptors in the brain – in the parietal temporal lobe area – for testosterone.
These are responsible for such things as mood and mental clarity, and as we age, the levels of testosterone decline. This causes memory and focus to also decline and agitation to increase. These are all indicators of Alzheimer’s disease.
Medical researchers also find hormones play a role in beta amyloid disposition beta which is another indicator of dementia and Alzheimer’s. With the onset of dementia, the brain’s neuro fibers become entangled and the synapses become coated. There is a direct correlation between balanced estrogen and testosterone hormones in the prevention of this condition.
Unfortunately, once Alzheimer’s disease begins, it is not reversible. As a result, the most important consideration for anyone who might be genetically predisposed for these conditions is prevention. This means one must take action to ensure that his or her hormones are optimized throughout the aging process.
Food for Thought
In addition to hormone imbalance, there are other theories about lifestyle factors that might bring about this relentless cognitive decline. Food plays a critical role in helping someone avoid dementia. Processed foods, the demineralization of food, and all of the pesticides and chemicals that are being used to grow our food, have been shown to impact the onset of dementia and then Alzheimer’s disease. The toxins found in this type of food, affect the brain. There is no question about this.
My rule-of-thumb for choosing food for you and your family is this: If you can’t pronounce a word on the label, it’s likely not healthy and not something you should eat.
Will This Speed Training Change Treatment for Dementia?
In order to participate in this ‘speed training’ brain exercise or any other type of preventive therapy, a person must feel good enough to get up and become active. If one’s testosterone is too low, they will not have the energy necessary to participate in these dementia prevention exercises.
Hormones, B vitamins – found in green, leafy vegetables – and other fresh, non-processed food supply the ‘fuel’ needed to complete these rigorous mental exercises. Moderate exercise, such as walking 20-minutes each day, also increases our brain capacity.
As for this current research on speed training, I believe it will be incorporated into current therapies for prevention of these conditions. However, there is no cure. The current approach for treating cognitive decline involves using medication which slows down the decline, but doesn’t halt the process.
Once the condition is diagnosed and brain cells begin to die, the condition is irreversible. Even though most medical research and literature do not focus on it, prevention is the key.
About the author:
Speaker, Author, Coach and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner Terri Suresh-DeNeui, has extensive training in her field. She has extended her education to include certifications in Anti-Aging/Wellness Medicine and Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy.
Terri owns and operates two thriving wellness clinics in Texas, Hormonal Health, Wellness & Aesthetic Centers (soon to be Evexias Medical Centers). Her passion for speaking and educating has earned her accolades across the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex and invitations to write columns, book chapters and speak in a variety of settings, including television, radio, and seminars across the country.
She has recently received certifications to teach Partnership Guru Alison Armstrong’s work in the areas of gender communication, partnership and emotional healing.