Dr. D. Douglas Brown, DC, DACNB, owner of the Mind Performance Center, LLC, in Foley, Alabama, improves quality of life by providing non-drug rehabilitation for a range of brain disorders including dementia, traumatic brain injury, autism, stroke and depression (even treatment-resistant depression). He is one of only a few functional neurologists in the U.S. combining the Bredesen protocol with the use of brain pathway activation therapy and deep transcranial magnetic stimulation. Because his multi-faced approach can treat and sometimes reverse Alzheimer’s, we asked Brown for tips on the prevention and treatment of dementia.
What steps can individuals take to prevent dementia?
The number one thing you can do to protect yourself from cognitive decline is to get sugar out of your diet. Don’t switch to diet sodas—all sugars are bad whether they’re artificial or natural. If there is a history of Alzheimer’s in your family, even fruit should be eaten in limited amounts due to its naturally-occurring sugar content.
Being social is also very important because when we’re interacting with others, it makes our brains think and it makes us feel valued. I want my patients getting out of the house regularly to join clubs, go outdoors, dance, whatever they like as long as they’re with other people.
What other diet recommendations do you have?
Eat like your grandmothers and your great grandmothers ate—avoid artificial ingredients and processed junk food. Choose organic as much as possible and focus on whole foods. Low-mercury fish is the best choice for meat. Refer to [Alzheimer’s researcher] Dale Bredesen’s SMASH acronym, which stands for salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring.
What are the first signs of dementia?
When you begin forgetting things and having to make lists for things that are not typically forgotten. Taking a list to the grocery store is normal, having to write down a familiar nephew’s name is not. If doing math in your head is suddenly a struggle and it wasn’t before, that is also a symptom of dementia.
Patients often dismiss signs early on and then they begin using tricks to hide symptoms from family and friends. When names become hard to remember they may start calling you “buddy” or saying, “How’s it going, friend?”
We also work with subjective cognitive impairment cases, where a patient knows there is a decline even when tests don’t detect the change. Attorneys see me for this—neurological tests may indicate that everything is normal but they insist that they aren’t as sharp as they were. We can work with them to improve their brain health.
How do you manage and reverse dementia when symptoms become apparent?
We use the Bredesen Protocol, which requires a full neurological exam and detailed bloodwork so we see how well the brain is functioning and where the weaknesses are. Whatever we find wrong, we fix it. In addition to an individualized science-based nutrition program, we use deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to wake up the brain. TMS functions like a volume switch; we turn up the volume on the brain so that it works better. We also have special exercises and therapies to improve balance and dexterity. These exercises correlate to specific parts of the brain which stimulates those areas. Plus, we use speed of thinking therapies.
What is your number one piece of advice?
The biochemical cascade of events begins when we are in our 30s and 40s. By the time we are forgetting things, a lot of damage has been done. The most important thing is don’t wait. I can’t overemphasize that the longer you wait the more damage that’s done. Plus there’s no harm in a preventative evaluation—we call them cognoscopies—where we’ll do tests and bloodwork to see how the brain is functioning and let the patient know what areas they need to focus on. Brain disorders such as dementia are correctable, but the sooner you act, the more we can do to help.
For more information, visit MindPerformanceCenter.com.