When I decided to write The Healthy Brain Toolbox: Neurologist-Proven Strategies to Prevent Memory Loss and Protect Your Aging Brain, it was because I thought it was high time to set the record straight.
It remains a common notion that genes determine a person’s illness fate and there is nothing they can do about it. But it turns out, in most cases, this statement couldn’t be farther from the truth. Your genes are NOT your destiny! If they were, I couldn’t have helped thousands of people with my books and the unique strategies used in my clinic-based functional medicine program, Brain Tune Up!
Functional Medicine and the Science of Epigenetics
The success of functional medicine for epigenetic neurological wellness is dependent upon the proven fact that both lifestyle and environment influence the expression of our genes. This is true whether you are suffering from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, or ALS.
This is the science of epigenetics. Gene-transfer and genetic repair techniques are in their infancy today, so it is not possible to change your genes (yet!). But IT IS POSSIBLE to change the expression of your genes. If you want to turn on health-promoting genes and turn off disease-promoting genes, then you must understand how lifestyle and environment impact your epigenetic health.
Epigenetics and Neurology: It’s More Than ApoE4
First, we must set the record straight: there are many genes that influence the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. While some genes are particularly important, the whole story is much more complicated.
One gene that gets lots of attention is called Apolipoprotein Epsilon 4 — or ApoE4.
Apolipoprotein E is responsible for the transport of cholesterol, nerve cell growth, repair of injured tissue, nerve cell regeneration, and regulation of the immune system among other functions.
There are three variants of Apolipoprotein E that can be inherited through genes from our parents. The variant called ApoE4, present in about 20-25% of the population, carries a 3-fold or 15-fold increase in Alzheimer’s risk for people who inherit one or two copies of the gene, respectively. However, with advances in genetic research, we know that ApoE4 contributes only about a third of the overall genetic risk of Alzheimer’s, and only 40-65% of Alzheimer’s disease patients are ApoE4 carriers.
This means that other factors play a role in the risk of Alzheimer’s. ApoE4 has gained a lot of attention, but it now appears that there may be as many as 215 different genes that contribute to the genetic causes of Alzheimer’s disease. At Sharlin Health and Neurology, we’re dedicated to providing you with the latest medical research. ApoE4 isn’t out, it’s just old news, and the story continues to evolve.
Lifestyle Changes and Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention
The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference brings the world’s top researchers together once a year to exchange ideas and present the most cutting-edge information on Alzheimer’s disease prevention.
Here’s the exciting stuff:
New research suggests that adopting multiple healthy lifestyle changes has a profound impact on Alzheimer’s risk.
But here’s the catch:
Participants who adopted four or five lifestyle factors had about 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s, compared with participants who did not follow any or only followed one. This is an enormous protective benefit for everyday people who are at risk.
One such lifestyle factor is a carefully crafted, healthy diet. Even though we had a president who famously admitted he did not like broccoli, I am here to tell you to eat it up and go back for seconds! Broccoli is good for your brain. But there is so much more. If you want to protect your brain, prevent Alzheimer’s, and you’re ready to get started, contact Sharlin Health and Neurology today!
My Top 7 Tools to Tune Up and Protect Your Brain
Based on what I’ve shared with you, it doesn’t appear that one simple lifestyle change is enough to put a dent in the Alzheimer’s risk equation. You are going to need more than one tool in your toolbox, and I am going to give them to you. As a neurologist who wants to help you make your brain the best that it can be, I am opening up my toolbox for you.
In future posts, I’m going to break down each of the 7 Tools and explain all the details. For now, here is the top-level list of tools:
Tool #1: SLEEP
Tool #2: EAT
Tool #3: MOVE
Tool #4: BE
Tool #5: CONNECT
Tool #6: FILL THE GAPS
Tool #7: STIMULATE